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Did you know Eastman’s Hardware has over 100 years of storied history?

In the mid-1960s, a number of Falmouth businesses experienced a rash of arsonist attacks, which left storeowners tense and fearful. One Tuesday night, the arsonist threw a Molotov cocktail through the Eastman’s hardware store window. The resulting smoke and fire damage was enough to cripple but not stop operations for two weeks. While repairs were made, a fire sale was held and merchandise was restocked.

A committed community response to Eastman’s was a natural reflex to the genuine concern the Eastmans’ generations had shown the community, and not just through the family business.

In 1978, after Elwood’s son, Chuck, had finished college and had tested the business world’s waters beyond Falmouth for a few years, he decided to return to the family business. “I realized that I wanted to be self-employed rather than working for some big corporation,” said Chuck.

Chuck has since rejuventated the store’s clothing and sporting goods department. In 1988, he reopened the family’s sport fishing tackle business in a shop across Main Street and called it “Eastman’s Sport and Tackle.”

Though Chuck says he enjoys seeing the business come full circle to the trade character his grandfather developed, today he confronts a very different marketplace. “I’ve seen Falmouth go from a small town to a small city, and a lot of community closeness as well as sporting terrain has been lost in the transition,” said Chuck. “I’ve learned that bigger is not always best, and so we strive to retain a manageable size in keeping with the image of a friendly, family-owned business.”

The Eastman Hardware Store still retains much of its turn-of-the-century character with tin-pressed ceilings, carved wood trim, polished hardwood floors, and antique tools displayed as wall art. The family business is notable not only for its historical and architectural distinction, but for being one of the oldest family-owned businesses in Falmouth. Hanging in its back office is a gallery of family photos and memorabilia that mirror the times of each Eastman generation.

Then there’s the big iron bull’s ring hanging just above the customer counter, a reminder, Chuck says, of Charlie’s humorous, no-nonsense business manor. As he stared at the ring and hefted it, he seemed suddenly drawn back in time. As a smile began to inch across his face, he said with a barely concealed chuckle, “my grandfather would hand this to a salesman when he realized the man was giving him a lot of just that.”

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