Leonard Branstetter, owner of Plaza Hardware, says he has stayed in business for so long because customers have a variety of products to choose from and they get excellent service.

Sometimes the little guy can win, and Leonard and Karilyn Branstetter, owners of Plaza Hardware, the oldest continually operating retail business in Ahwatukee Foothills, are proof that you do not have to be the biggest guy in town to succeed.

Originally from Iowa, the Branstetters opened up a hardware and pool supply store on Elliot Road in Ahwatukee in 1981.

"Our store became a Saturday meeting place for many Ahwatukee residents who had previously had to go to the Kmart store on Baseline Road for their supplies," Leonard said.

In 1989 Leonard and Karilyn opened up a second hardware store in the Mountainside Plaza at 40th Street and Chandler Boulevard. Plaza Hardware became one of the first businesses in Ahwatukee to support Little League teams, which the business continues to support today.

"We have some customers that started with us as kids on Little League teams, and now they're coming into our store as dads," he said.

He believes that his business has been successful because his employees have service integrity and the store has a good mix of products. Plaza Hardware carries hardware, electrical, tools, a large plumbing department, lawn and garden supplies and specializes in pool supplies and repairs.

"We've always been a one-stop quick shop," Leonard said. "We're not like Home Depot where we're so big that it takes half an hour to find anything."

Leonard and Karilyn have no plans to slow down with their hardware business.

"We're both still in good health and we like to work, so we plan on staying here with the business," Leonard said.

Plaza Hardware is located at 4025 E. Chandler Blvd. For more information, call (480) 759-4425.

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