Longtime manager at Hammer & Nails Hardware in Pacific Beach, Walby’s last work day was Feb. 28.
His party was something Walby told the Beach & Bay Press he was really looking forward to, even though it would be bittersweet.
“I’m going to miss that store big time,” admitted Walby, who’s been there more than 23 years. “It’s the longest I’ve ever been employed at one place. There’s definitely a family feel to it.”
Walby’s known for being recognizable by practically everybody in the neighborhood. “Even if they didn’t know me by name, they’d see me and say, ‘There’s the Hammer and Nails guy,’ ” he said.
Hammer & Nails Hardware has served Pacific Beach in the same location since 1946. Bill and Patty Meanley purchased the store in 1991 and manager Ron Roman joined them a month later. Walby came aboard three years after that.
Meanley said his truly family business joined the Ace Hardware co-op in 2004 “for better access to a wide range of products and services at low cost.” He added, “Hammer & Nails Ace Hardware supports the community in many ways including youth activities and local school projects. We provide a complete assortment of the basic hardware departments with friendly, knowledgable service and competitive prices in a convenient location.”
Meanley gave Walby kudos.
“Anyone who has dealt with Bill at Hammer & Nails appreciates his humor and helpful advice,” said Meanley. “He has the gift of spontaneously relating to others in an open, friendly and respectful way. Bill generates a sense of community, whether at work or enjoying leisure time.”
There’s a lot about Walby most people don’t know. Like the fact that his wife, Marie, was a customer. Or that Walby has a multitude of outside interests including classic cars and being a lead singer in bands, as well as his being an avid collector of 1960s rock art posters.
There’s a habit Walby has that’s no secret.
“He sings and whistles his way through his workday,” noted Meanley.
“It’s just tied back to my love for music,” explained Walby. “Being a singer, I habitually sing random stuff during the day. It’s in my heart.”
Concerning classic cars, Walby said, “Growing up, everyone I hung out with in the ’60s and ’70s was into them. I’ve had several, a ’70 Chevy C10 pickup truck and a ’73 Pontiac Grand Prix I restored, as well as a Chevy Camero Z 28.”
Concerning meeting his future wife at work, Walby noted it was a natural. “She was from New Orleans and was living with her parents, and when they went back there for an extended stay, she took it upon herself to renovate their house while they were gone,” he said. “You’ve heard the old adage about love at first sight? That’s what happened with us.”
Walby said Marie would come in regularly and he would help her get whatever she needed. When her remodel came to an end, he said, “Let’s celebrate the occasion.” She agreed saying, “Sure, if you can think of something fun to do.”
Apparently he did. A year later they were wed.
Walby’s enjoyed being in the hardware business because, “I’ve really been attracted to helping people get through whatever problems they have. A hardware store is a mini emergency room. People come in because they have something that’s broken and needs to be fixed. That’s my forte.”
Meanley acknowledged it’s tough to see Walby go.
“Bill has set a very high bar in the store and it will be a real challenge to replace him,” he said. “He will surely be missed.”
Bill and Marie Walby are planning to relocate to Idlewild in the near future.