Stalders Hardware: A Teaneck Landmark
By RICHARD KUNATH
Stalders Hardware was the first retail store to open in the central business district of Cedar Lane. Joseph Stalder opened his store at 445 Cedar Lane in 1925, now the site of the Sitar Palace Restaurant. Frank Panetierri later opened his shoe repair shop in the same location.
As a young man, Mr. Stalder was a lighting technician for a movie house in New York City. In the 1920s, he and his wife Barbara bought a house in Teaneck and opened a store on Cedar Lane. His hardware store supplied many building contractors in the area. When the Depression came, he extended credit to many of these contractors, even though many were in deep trouble. As a result, he lost his house.
Around this time, he moved his business four doors up to 453 Cedar Lane, now the site of Hallmark Photographers.
Right up until 1971, when the store closed, it was your typical hardware store: wood floors, wood barrels with nails, and bare incandescent light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Mr. Stalder never did get a cash register - a cash drawer with wood oval compartments to hold the coins was just fine. He also used the same small round black desk telephone that was installed in the early 1940s. Many attempts by the phone company to update his equipment were met with contempt! Walking into his store in the 1970s was like walking into a time capsule; nothing had changed at all.
It was a very sad day for me when he decided to close the store in 1971. My sign shop was next door, and we had become friends. I helped him clean out his store basement, which produced a dust-covered antique fire hat. He had been a Teaneck volunteer firefighter many years before, and he gave me the fire hat, along with the old telephone from his store. I still display these in my den.
He drove his 1947 maroon Mercury up until the mid-1980s. In my mind, I can still see him driving around town, going to the bank, shopping at Foodtown for groceries, or going to the candy store for cigars. I suggested he finally buy a car with an automatic transmission, but he quickly ruled that out, explaining that didn't like "one foot jobs!"
Mr. Stalder died Nov.5, 1994. He would have been 102 on Dec. 18.