David and Richard Hubbard
- story by Pat Saik
Most everybody in Waveland and Bay St. Louis likely have bought anything from lumber to a pack of nails at Hubbard’s Hardware, a fixture on Nicholson Avenue since 1954.
Now run by the two youngest Hubbard brothers, David and Richard, the store is abuzz with customers who have been doing business there for years. Almost like a small-town barbershop, where community news is spread by word of mouth, Hubbard’s Hardware hears it all. Customers seem as anxious to chew the fat as they do to find what they may have come in for.
The beauty of the operation, which obviously has been cultivated for years, is the know-how needed to help a customer find “that thing-a-ma-gig” to fix a faucet or a fence. Both David and Richard can not only figure out what you need, but can also suggest a way to save you money.
David and Richard’s mother, Dorothy Thompson, lived in New Orleans before she married Robert “Manny” Hubbard, who was born and raised in Waveland. Manny’s father-in-law worked for the Corps of Engineers and commuted to New Orleans every weekday, when passenger train service made it an easy trip from the Bay to the Crescent City. Manny’s father worked for the Associated Press and frequently commuted to New Orleans as well.
Dorothy and Manny had six children: Ann, Bob, Joan, Sally, David and Richard. Richard, the self-described baby of the family, was born in 1953.
Manny’s first business was a sawmill in unincorporated Waveland on what is now Daniel Street. He then opened a hardware store in the Depot District in Bay St. Louis. Ellis Cuevas worked for Mr. Hubbard for a time. Mr. Cuevas is better known around here for his long tenure with the Sea Coast Echo. He still writes a column for the Echo as Professor Emeritus called “Cuevas’ Quotes.”
Manny Hubbard built his own freestanding establishment on Nicholson Avenue near Jeff Davis. Construction began in 1953 and Hubbard’s Hardware opened for business in 1954. The family-run business has been serving the community ever since.
David exhibited his love for construction at the tender age of three. He walked to the hardware store from his home on Jeff Davis Street, quite a long way for a child that age. When his father discovered him, David got sent home, his mother watching him return while brandishing a switch to give him a good whipping. In the early 1950s, Nicholson Avenue and Jeff Davis were still slow-paced enough for a three-year old to navigate safely from home to business.
Richard still loves to build. “I moved into my grandmother’s house in the 1980s and I’ve been working on it ever since.”
The boys in the family started working at the store as teenagers. Oldest son Bob worked there in the 1960s before he became a professional photographer. David started working at the store in 1968; Richard began full-time after graduating from high school.
After Hurricane Katrina came and went, flooding the store with muck and debris, Hubbard’s reopened to serve a beleaguered community just five or six days later. With the store in chaos, customers lined up to the improvised counter on a Dutch door, half-opened from the middle to the top. Not unlike a soft ice cream shop, you ordered what you wanted and soon after, one of the Hubbards handed it to you from behind the half-opened door.
Richard recalls that it took about a month after Katrina to restock and restore the store for business. During that time, the National Guard would deliver a pallet of ice near the store for anyone who needed it.
Meanwhile, Richard provided a place in the front of his nearby home where people could do their best to wash off dirt and clay and sweat, take a breather, and socialize with others who dropped by to clean up.
Hubbard’s Hardware has been in business so long they are now into serving the third generation of customers — the grandchildren of the people with whom they had first done business.
The kind of customer loyalty that Hubbard’s has enjoyed through decades of operation is no accident. When a customer comes in, Richard or David or one of their staff ask what you need and then find it for you. If you don’t know what you need but can describe what you need to do, the crew at Hubbard’s Hardware will lead you in the right direction.
David and Richard like interacting with people who visit the store, many of whom they have known for years. The brothers grew up with many of their customers, enjoying the natural richness of the Bay, hunting, swimming and fishing.
“The friendliness of people in the community make Bay St. Louis and Waveland unusual,” says Richard. “It’s the kind of place that people who once lived here and then moved away want to come back.”
The friendly spirit that animates the community is in full force at Hubbard’s Hardware. Catch up on the latest news, reminisce, tell stories, joke, laugh, and then have David and Richard find what you need.