Larrivee Designer Hardware to close after 46 years in Dover

Edward and Joan Larrivee outside their hardware business on Governors Ave. in Dover. The couple are closing the store after being in business for 46 years. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ian Gronau)

DOVER — After nearly 50 years of doing business in Dover, Edward Larrivee, owner of Larrivee Designer Hardware, is closing up shop. Currently in the midst of an “everything must go retirement sale,” he expects to permanently shutter the business on 505 Governors Ave. in Dover by Christmas.

Opening originally in 1973, Mr. Larrivee says he decided to close because of health complications. His wife, Joan Larrivee, will be running the store for the next few months to sell off the remaining inventory.

Edward Larrivee browsing hardware in the earlier years of his business.
Photo courtesy of the Larrivee family

Happy to be starting a new chapter of his life, Mr. Larrivee says he will always look back at his time in the small building on the corner of Governors Ave. and Water Street with fondness.

“I met my wife for the first time in this store, and this business put our four kids through college,” he said.

A New York native, Mr. Larrivee said he bought the building by borrowing money from friends and family without having a fully formed idea of what sort of business he’d put in it.

“For a while, I thought we might try to move a liquor store in, but before long, I just started going to auctions and sales and filling it with furniture and other hardware to resell,” he said.

Over the years, the store slowly evolved into an antique furniture resale and specialty hardware store that stocks a wide variety of outlet plates, hinges, trunk hardware, doorknobs, drawer and cabinet pulls and various “bric-a-brac.”

With a selection far beyond a traditional hardware store, Mr. Larrivee knows the backstory and historical context for nearly every piece he stocks — even what antique door knockers might have been found of George Washington’s house and what style of trunk Abraham Lincoln may have stored his belongings in.

Just like the hardware in the store, Mr. Larrivee’s business has witnessed some history too.

“I remember when I bought the place a big part of Route 13 was still just a dirt road — now look at it,” he said. “A lot was different back then. There was a little diner up the road where and the businessmen would meet for breakfast and talk – that’s how things were done back then. Don’t get me wrong, computers have done a lot of great things for us, but we used to do a lot more face-to-face.”

Feeling strongly about customer service, Mr. Larrivee says his secret for running a long-term successful business is simple.

“Like people,” he said with a good-natured smile. “Every time someone walked in the store, I didn’t just want to make a sale, I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to find out what sort of project they were working on and what interested them. Before I’d know it, we’d be talking like best friends.”

The retirement sale will continue until the inventory is sold — likely until December. For more information, visit, email or call (302) 674-0220.

Now open

•Jerry Longo’s Meatballs & Martinis — the new Italian restaurant hosted a Ribbon Cutting at its location in Dover Downs last week. It replaced the former Frankie’s Restaurant which closed in September. The Longo’s brand originated in the Federal Hill area in Providence, Rhode Island.

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