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Bridgeport, Chinatown, McKinley Park

Joe Harris’ Hardware Store Closing After 60 Years In Bridgeport

The building with the neighborhood hardware store has been sold, said shop runner Bill Harris. It'll close after a Wednesday farewell party.

Joe Harris Paint & True Value opened in 1962 and will close for good on Aug. 31, 2022.
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BRIDGEPORT — A hardware store known for fixing up old-school Chicago homes will close Wednesday after almost 60 years in Bridgeport. 

The corner building at 3301 S. Wallace St. that’s long had Joe Harris Paint & True Value on its ground floor has been sold, said shop operator Bill Harris. 

Everything left in the store is 70 percent off, Harris said. The tools and paints that remain after closing will be donated to help veterans fix up their houses, Harris said. 

Joe Harris, uncle of Bill Harris, opened the store in 1962 and will be there again Wednesday for a farewell party “with maybe some cake and a little bit of pop,” Bill Harris said. 

The hardware store once brimmed with vintage faucet pipes and special fittings uniquely suited for historical Chicago homes, Bill Harris said. The parts were picked over years of fine-tuning the store’s stock and responding to the needs of customers — care that only a neighborhood store could provide, Harris said. 

Harris started working for his uncle, cutting keys and cleaning windows, when he was a 14-year-old at St. Rita High School. Now that he’s 69 years old, “it’s time to put my feet up,” Harris said.  

Harris will miss the customers, most of whom he knows by name and some of whom he is now serving their third and fourth generations, he said.

“We didn’t get rich. But we served the community and had very loyal customers,” Harris said. “It’s like a family.” 

Joe Harris grew up in Bridgeport and took a chance on hardware after coming up in the paint and wallpaper business, Bill Harris said. 

The tiny hardware shop thrived in the ’70s and ’80s when it was fashionable for people to cover their homes in wallpaper, Harris said. The shop always had an employee willing to wait with a customer as they figured out what they needed for a fix, he said.

“It was a melting pot, from your run-of-the-mill customers to executives trying to decorate their homes,” Harris said. “People came in and got the things they needed.”

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