By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter
For 38 years Norris Hardware has been the epitome of a friendly neighborhood store: family-owned and centrally located. Except, after weeks of rumors, the building is now up for lease through Westside Retail. It can become available on Sept. 1 this year. A mere 100 days away.
It has been busy—30,000 cars a day pass its Sunset location each day—but at 10,500 square feet, 2,000 square feet larger than neighboring Pharmaca, there have long been community questions whether it needed all that shelf space.
Yet Norris has deep roots in the community. Palisadian pioneer Robert Norris founded the store in 1925. His wife Clarissa was the sister of Methodist minister Charles Scott, founder of Pacific Palisades.
It was born as a plumbing shop on the corner of Temescal Canyon Road and Beverly Boulevard (now Sunset). Then it moved to Swarthmore Avenue. Norris’ granddaughter Ellen later ran the hardware store with her husband Grant Sears. Her brother Alan worked at the store throughout his teenage years.
In April 1979 it settled at its current location, taking over the Bay Theatre, a favorite since 1949. It, too, had been undercut by changing times—facing the loud infant, television. Norris struggled with the internet. Perhaps ironically, a revised version of the Bay will open at Palisades Village on Sept. 22.
In 2007 Grant Sears told the Palisadian-Post that Norris Hardware had survived the Depression and he had high hopes it would survive after the lease on the building, itself owned by the Ford family of the Alphabet Streets, expired in 2018.
The Fords are descended from a Palisadian founding father, Leland Ford, a former railway surveyor and farmer who became a Republican Congressman for the area. He was the first congressman to lobby for the mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. He lost his re-election in 1942. Since then it’s been a relatively low-risk investment: Public records say it pays less than $20,000 a year in property taxes.
Grant Sears still runs Norris with enthusiasm, staff say, but when the Post attempted to speak with him on Tuesday, May 22, during a visibly slow morning at the store, he said: “I don’t have any time today, try me again later.”
Among essential household products sold at Norris, light bulbs—especially the energy-saving fluorescent kind—are the hot ticket. Storage containers, plumbing supplies and tools have been close behind.
For locals, browsing at Norris Hardware is more fun than Amazon or Home Depot. Many would probably follow Norris to another local location. Unless a last-minute deal can be struck, there is already speculation about what could replace Norris. It’s unlikely to be another supermarket, being so close to Ralphs Fresh Fare and across the street from the forthcoming Vintage Grocers, but it could be a large gym, a restaurant or maybe, with enhanced parking, condos.
Casey P. Smith contributed to this report.