The South Shore Bellwether
Volume 1 • Issue 2
Strehlow Paint and Hardware
ey still make house calls
by Charlie Sweet
n this era of gigantic superstores, a neighborhood hardware store is almost a thing of the past. is is not the case on Kinnickinnic Avenue in Bay View.
Strehlow Paint and Hardware stands on the corner of Lenox and KK, as it has for almost a century. Originally a paint and wallpaper store, it was opened in 1905 by Paul Strehlow. Since March of 1917, though, the Strehlow family ran it as a neighborhood hardware store—a tradition that continues today under the current ownership. Jim Lehmann and Randy Krenn bought the store from the Strehlows seven years ago. Lehmann has worked there for the past 26 years—since his sophomore year at Bay View High School. As much a part of the neighborhood as his business, Lehmann also attended Dover Street School for kindergarten, and Immaculate Conception in his grade school years. Having grown up in the area, Lehmann is thrilled with the influx of new businesses on Kinnickinnic Avenue. He remembers the days when people would do most of their shopping at local stores. After a while, though, he said, “It wasn’t like that anymore…but now it’s good to see people walk the streets more, and to see a lot of the new ventures happening.” In addition to offering the many products one would expect to see in a hardware store, Strehlow also provides storm and screen repair — often same-day service, glass and Plexiglas cutting, pipe threading (up to two inches), blade sharpening, and even small appliance repair service, such as rewiring of old lamps. For Lehmann, what matters most are his customers. “I like being able to help people buy the specific product they need,” he noted. “In some stores, you go in to buy a
Jim Lehmann and Randy Krenn ~ photo by Scott Caywood faucet and you walk out with the whole sink.” Honesty, he said, is what gets a customer to come back to the store. ey don’t worry about competing with big box stores at Strehlow Paint and Hardware. “I like to say that we’re a hardware store, and they’re not,” Lehman said. Noting that a small business simply can’t compete with the big box store prices, Lehmann stresses the importance of the relationships he builds with his customers and the type of customer service they provide that big box stores cannot. “We give people knowledge in addition to products,” he said. “We also do a lot of things that we don’t get paid for,” Lehmann said, such as helping customers of neighboring businesses get into their cars when they inadvertently lock their keys inside. “We’ve even gone home with customers and shown them how to do their project!” When told of a time when one of his employees lent a tool to a customer for a weekend to finish a project, Lehmann smiled, and said, “We do that all the time. at’s the stuff that goes on here daily.”
Ruth Simos - 9
Eight decades bestow this long-time resident with gifts of perception, devotion, wisdom. Bay View is blessed by her community service.
Third Ward Debut - 13
People seem to value such dedication and service. Lehmann speaks fondly of customers who bring back sausage from hunting trips up north. Some people begin as customers and wind up as friends. “Someone comes into the store three, four, five times...then you wind up fishing with them.” It is both the people of Bay View and the small neighborhood feeling that still exists here that contribute to his positive attitude. “I love my job,” he said, “Every day is different. And they say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Of the store, he added, “We’re not super fancy, but we try to do what we can to get people to come back.” Strehlow Paint and Hardware 2675 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue. (414) 744-4960 Open 8am-7pm weekdays, 8am-5pm on Saturdays, and 10am-2pm on Sundays.
Kids Page Debut - 10
Reaching to northern neighbors, this new page features Christmas in the Ward, and the forthcoming Public Market.
The Compass is teaming up with Fernwood Montessori to co-produce a page about schools. The content will be prouced by their students.
Bay View Compass PO Box 716 Milwaukee, WI 53201-0716
All I Want for Christmas
Forward Bay View New organization that champions small business and walkable neighborhoods held inaugural public meeting to outline vision and mission.
Some reflections about Christmas by two Muslim women.
The Compass (Currents) publisher talks about neighborhoods, community identity, and the Compass role in Bay View.
December 2004 Issue