New local owners take over iconic OB Hardware
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 09/09/21 - 09:00 AM | 2205 views | 9 9 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New owners Jenae and Joe Kuchman with former owner Mike DeEmedio. COURTESY PHOTO
New owners Jenae and Joe Kuchman with former owner Mike DeEmedio. COURTESY PHOTO
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OB Hardware has been sold, the new owners have taken over and they are local. Jenae and Joe Kuchman took control of the bedrock Ocean Beach business at 4871 Newport Ave. on Sept. 1.

“I’m a native San Diegan and my husband and I have lived in OB for 15 or 20 years,” noted Jenae, who said they got interested in purchasing the business in June because “being an entrepreneur was something that interested us and ultimately we didn’t want to see the store close.”

Immediate past hardware store co-owner Michael DeEmidio, who’d bought the business from the previous owners in 2018, has moved out of California to be closer to family. He reached out to the community in an effort to find someone local to replace them and continue the mom-and-pop store’s 100-year-old legacy.

DeEmedio and business partner Michael Grimes bought OB Hardware from Carl and Carolyn Weidetz, who had owned the century-old Ocean Beach Paint and Hardware for half that time. The longtime business, which opened in 1919, carried tools, gardening, plumbing, and electrical supplies as well as paints.

OB Hardware carries everything from fasteners, screws, and nails to plumbing, electrical, and kitchen items. The store does screen repairs and makes keys. “We have a little bit of everything, but we don’t have a lot of anything,” DeEmedio said previously adding, “We’re really a one-stop-shop.”

The Kuchmans have no prior experience in the hardware business, but Jenae noted they have suitable experience in other occupations to make a go of it. “My background is in marketing and sales, and my husband is an electrical engineer by trade, so he’s got the handyman background and comes from a long line of carpenters, woodworkers, and architects,” she said.

Jenae praised the previous owners for “turning OB Hardware around,” which she pointed out “made it easier for us to purchase the store.” She added they intend to keep the “amazing” existing half-dozen employees.

DeEmedio said he never regretted his experience as a beach-town retailer.

“When I decided to jump in, they (Weidetzs) were going out of business,” he said. “It was worth the time and effort. I left my corporate job and I don’t regret it. We’ve managed to rebuild the store. It’s in a much better position than it was when we took over, financially speaking. It’s more functional. We’ve got a lot of inventory. We were hoping we could find someone to step in and kind of do what we’d done.”

It will take a little time for the Kuchmans to settle into their new enterprise.

“We’re not going to change anything right away,” Jenae said. “We’ll kind of assess how things go over the next couple of months before we make any moves one way or another.”

But there is one thing the new owners plan to do with their store right away.

“We really want to do some more community outreach, have a couple of workshops with plants and kid’s crafts, do some other things that might interest the community,” Jenae said. “For instance, there are a lot of people in the community who are interested in rebuilding camper vans for leisure. Maybe something like that would work.”

The Kuchmans intend to build on the solid foundation laid by their predecessors in expanding the hardware store’s gardening department. “I’m an avid gardener myself,” pointed out Jenae.”We’re going to continue selling things that are all organic. We’re going to take it that way.”

The couple has been warmly received.

“We’ve only been owners for a couple of days, but we’ve had a ton of people stop by just to reach out to us,” Jenae said. “We’re so grateful for the community’s support.”

OB HARDWARE

Where: 4871 Newport Ave.

Contact: oceanbeachhardware.com, 619-223-3083.  

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