HAWORTH, NJ — Robert Sconfienza believes a gift certificate to his hardware store will bring return customers.
He should know: Sconfienza has owned and operated Haworth Hardware since 1957. He's also in the seventh year of a "Do It Best" catalog sweepstakes, which awards a $1,000 shopping spree at each participating store.
The lucky winner of the Nov. 21 drawing gets to select emergency equipment, household fixtures, tools and other items from the catalog.
"I bought a house in 1972 that almost went to demolition, and I've been fixing it up ever since," Sconfienza said.
The Vietnam veteran also constructed the store after inheriting the business from his father.
Sconfienza banks on traditional values and decades of knowledge. Women approach him and are willing to listen, while men often try their own ideas, he says -- only to find themselves back at his shop, fixing more expensive problems.
Personalized attention makes the difference, Sconfienza says.
“Sometimes the police department calls me up in the middle of a night if a woman or a guy has a problem. They all have my cell phone. I put my pants on and go. That’s what I do,” he said, taking a drag off a cigarette. “Those big stores won't do that.”
“I don’t come here often, but we’re moving," said Moon Yang, a current resident of Dumont who was shopping for construction waste removal bags. "I need to know the right size, so I came here.”
Sconfienza is active in the community and points out the various military hats and select shirts displayed behind the counter. A West Point t-shirt hands above a coin with an Iwo Jima emblem that a borough resident gave him.
“The father served in Iwo Jima," Sconfienza said. "He has two sons but gave that coin to me. I put it in my will.”
A military organization will get it, he said.Sconfienza said he fears the younger generation may not share the traditional values that have kept him in business nearly six decades.
"They think everything is online,” he said. “They’ll see what happens when places like this go."