Local Hardware Store Pays It Forward

A group of bullies chased Jerry Walsh into MayDay Hardware after school one day when he was 12 years old. Now he owns the place.

Located on 755 Washington Avenue, MayDay Hardware was founded by Arnold Davidson in 1964. That year, Walsh, 59, ran into the store for safety. "I tell him 'These guys wanna beat me up outside,'" he says, recalling the day he met his would be mentor. "He puts a broom in my hand and says I've gotta sweep the floor."

After negotiating a fee of "[a bag of] chips and a soda," Walsh began sweeping the store with one eye locked on the window watching the bullies outside. Once they left and the task was complete, he asked Davidson for payment.

"He comes back with only a bottle of soda," Walsh says.

"I said, 'Where's my chips?' He looks at me and says, 'If you wanted the chips you had to move the things away from the edge of the counter and sweep right up to the aisle.' It bothered me so much that the next day I went straight to the hardware store [after school]. [Davidson] says, 'Well what do you want now?' I said, 'I want my chips' and I moved the things away from the edge of the counter and swept the store. It became my job everyday after school. I didn't get paid money. I got paid in soda and chips."

Those afternoons spent in MayDay Hardware shaped more than just Jerry Walsh's career, they shaped him into the person he is today. Davidson became his mentor, the best man in his wedding, his father figure. "My father was an alcoholic," says Walsh. "I am who I am because of Arnold Davidson."

After receiving his bachelor's degree from Baruch College in New York City, Walsh worked as a bookkeeper in Merrill Lynch's institutional sales office during the week and spent Saturdays working in MayDay Hardware. In 1976, when he was 24 years old, he purchased the store that raised him.

"[I] borrowed money from Arnie Davidson's mother," says Walsh. "It took me ten years to pay her off and it was not easy. It took every nickel that I didn't have to pay off his mother."


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