Colladay firm is still in business after 112 years

By The Hutchinson News

In the summer of 1885, Frank Colladay stopped in Hutchinson on his way to Lyons. He was so impressed with the layout of the new town, with its wide avenues lined with cottonwoods, he decided to go no farther and to make Hutchinson his home.

The next day, Colladay purchased the Hardy and Atkinson hardware store and began a hardware business that has lasted well over a century.

After 112 years, the business still seeks new markets and opportunities.

Just north of the corner of 2nd and Plum, Colladay Hardware quietly goes about its business.

"The average person in Hutchinson has no idea what this building represents," said Duane Banning, president of the Frank Colladay Hardware Co., about the company's four-story red brick warehouse at 201 North Plum.

The company has been supplying hardware to Hutchinson and points west for 112 years. Founded in 1885, the company got its start in a variety of storefronts on Main Street, starting out at 28 North Main, moving to 12 North Main in 1888 and finally to 16 North Main. It sold everything from barbed wire to pots and pans. The company became a wholesale-only operation in the early 1900s. During one point, Frank Colladay's brother, Stephen, ran his medical practice above the hardware store.

The Colladay warehouse was built in 1908. The story goes that Charles S. Colladay, Frank Colladay's son, wanted to find a spot near downtown Hutchinson that would stay dry when the Arkansas River flowed over its banks - a frequent occurrence in those days.

Colladay walked east and west from Main Street until he found a place where he could look downhill both ways. On that spot he built his warehouse. Just to the north, Colladay built another red brick building for the Colladay Harness Factory.

A faded marquee painted on the south side of the company's warehouse gives a hint about some of the merchandise retailers could depend on Colladay to supply in the early days - tools, shop equipment, house wares, appliances, heating and plumbing supplies, sporting goods, guns, ammunition, grain bins and stock tanks. The company even had its own line of saddles, called the Guaranteed Line.

Today, Colladay Hardware concentrates on hardware, hand and power tools, as well as fencing, plumbing and building maintenance supplies.

"At the turn of the century, pots and pans were a lot of what was sold," Banning said. "That went the way of the mass merchandiser."

Banning joined Colladay Hardware in 1964 and bought the Colladay family's stock in the company in 1985. Colladay Hardware, which employs 18 people, serves customers throughout the western two-thirds of the state, as well as portions of Oklahoma and Colorado.

Exactly what the hardware store will be supplying and to whom 5 or 10 years from now is a question Banning won't even attempt to answer. It depends on the economy and what other mass marketers venture into Kansas.

But Banning knows there is one thing that is clear about the future.

"We have to keep looking for new types of markets."


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