Pagano's plans to leave flagship store

Pagano's plans to leave flagship store

Michele Ellson

Updated at 5:03 p.m. Thursday, January 29 in BOLD

Pagano’s Hardware Mart has occupied the corner of Lincoln Avenue and St. Charles Street for nearly 70 years. But in a few short months, the iconic Island shop, which bills itself as “so much more than a hardware store,” will be moving to a new location.

Pagano’s, which is known to customers for its wide variety of goods and highly personal customer service, will be vacating its flagship location this spring and moving to the Webster Street space once occupied by Blockbuster Video after an apparent breakdown in negotiations over a new lease.

“It’ll end up being a plus,” Pagano’s owner Dave Giovannoli said. “It doesn’t sound like it now, but it will be.”

The storefront housed a coal and ice shop before Andy Pagano purchased it, in 1948. “Trucks would drive in, load up with coal and ice and load out the back,” Giovannoli said.

Pagano first ran a fertilizer shop there, with a small hardware department that ultimately became a primary business. Pagano’s Hardware has operated on the corner since the 1950s.

In addition to traditional home hardware supplies, the store offers up everything from readers to heaters, candles and canes, patio furniture and pet supplies – and a knowledgeable staff that can pinpoint the location of desired item within the dim, crowded warren of narrow store aisles.

Giovannoli, a sales representative whose longtime customers (and friends) included Pagano, bought the store from him in 1994 after promising to retain its name, level of service and old-fashioned look and feel. He inked a deal to open a second location at Alameda South Shore Center in 2009.

Giovannoli said he once planned to buy the Lincoln Avenue building that houses the flagship store, but wasn’t able to afford the price Pagano’s family sought for it after he died in 2002. Now, he said, the building’s current owner is asking for a rent he said he can’t afford.

“We can’t deal with the lease that’s been presented to us,” Giovannoli said.

Real estate broker Rich Krinks said the building’s owner hired him to negotiate a new lease with Pagano’s this past summer. He said the owner was willing to reduce the hardware store’s rent “by a substantial number.”

“This was made very clear to Pagano’s reps that the rent was being reduced and that the landlord wanted them to stay,” Krinks said. “Apparently it was not enough of a decrease and supposedly Pagano’s now has a plan to downsize dramatically and move to the old Blockbuster location.”

But in a timeline published in the comments to this story, Giovannoli said the building's owner only offered a rent reduction after months of negotiations and after Giovannoli had signed a lease on the new space, with his landlord agreeing to consider an offer Giovannoli says he made in July on the same day a reporter called the landlord about the planned move.

The new store will be smaller than the space that houses Pagano’s now, but Giovannoli said he will make it work. It will have wider aisles and better parking, he said.

“On the other hand, this is such a great old place,” Giovannoli said.

Customers – particularly those who live in the store’s existing neighborhood – said they were saddened to hear about the move.

“That store is a unique puzzle, but it's such fun wandering through it trying to find some particular thing and coming across all these other useful items,” Jon Florey wrote on The Alamedan’s Facebook page.

Others said they fear a lot of the items – and the charm – that make the store special will be lost in the move.

“The new location will only offer a fraction of the inventory that the current location offers. And, of course, the history and charm will be lost forever,” Frank Smith said.

Giovannoli said he wants to assure customers that the new store will still be Pagano’s – just with a new look.

“We’re not going to mess this up,” he said. “It’s still going to be Pagano’s.”


Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

I know that Dave Giovannoli and the staff at Pagano's will do their best to retain the historical "look and feel" of the original store in the new location and "not...mess this up." Losing the historic Pagano's is a real loss to all of Alameda--and Dave Giovannoli and his crew have a lot of company.

When I worked there for a short time after moving to the island, I quickly discovered that "everybody shops at Pagano's"--it was a social and communications hub of the community. There is also something very reassuring about shopping in a place where thousands of people have been helped--and found hard-to-locate supplies--over 70 years. The very walls seem soaked with credibility and expertise.

Much of this will inevitably be lost when Pagano's makes its forced move later this year: you cannot replace a building whose walls have soaked up decades of friendly and helpful conversations--and whose aisles and parts drawers have given birth to thousands of solutions to vexing problems.

It is sad that a few property owners who seem to only be out to make money are causing this kind of displacement for businesses and residents who rent here in Alameda, literally disrupting our social fabric. Pagano's is just one more case of a long-time Alameda tenant being forced out of an historic home.

Submitted by Margo (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

I am so disappointed the Hardward Store is moving. It is an icon of Alameda and service; they always have what you need or they get something that will work. I am very sorry to see this happen. I hope the owner that is demanding more rent sits with a vacant store for a long long time.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Hi Margo: At this point I have what appear to be conflicting reports on what happened with the lease - the owner's broker says they offered to reduce the rent, so it's not totally clear to me what happened.

Submitted by Lorre P (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Pagano's is the anchor for that area; without its presence pulling in shoppers, everyone loses: area businesses, the community, and property owners in the area. The property's characteristics and other obstacles also seem unlikely to be inviting to new tenants. It's difficult to understand what the broker/owner's strategy will accomplish beyond creating a major vacancy dragging down commercial rates for themselves and the entire area. Hope it's not too late for both parties to find a compromise preserving this community treasure in its current location.

Submitted by Brian McGuire (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

It's too bad this is happening, but I wouldn't put all the blame on the current building owners. The Pagano family made the situation possible buy selling the building to "the highest bidder" in 2002. By that logic, why isn't the current owner willing to operate for less earnings or at a loss in order to preserve an Alameda institution? Whose responsibility is it to pay for a community benefit? Looking forward to the new place, should be a great addition to the west end.

Hopefully the city preserves the retail zoning at the old building and it gets some good tenants that keep that neighborhood lively.

Submitted by 10dB (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

I live in the West End, so having Paganos nearby will be nice. But it won't be Paganos. Their new space (in the mini-mall that houses the Coast Guard recruiting station and Lee's Donuts) is smaller than their space in South Shore! And the South Shore Paganos ain't Paganos -- only the store on Lincoln with its vast array of "stuff" is Paganos. I fear we're seeing the beginning of the end.

Submitted by Carol Lynn Feat... (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

I am curious to see what goes in there after Pagano's moves. Who will ever be able to compete with such a loss to our little community and long-time loved store? I hope it is another business, and that they do well...but I have my doubts, and will mourn the change as it is just down the street and we went in almost every week for the past four years since we moved to our latest home.

Good luck to the owners at the Webster location. I will still go there over the Home Creepot anyday!

Submitted by Dave Giovannoli (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Just to clarify our situation let me provide a timeline of the events that led up to our decision to move Pagano's :
Feb 21st - in anticipation of our lease ending on July 1st we met with the landlord.
April 17th-June26th -5 meetings scheduled and cancelled by the landlord.
June 27th - owner responds , through his rep, that he wants to keep the lease "as is".
July 11th - we make a counter offer.
July 28th - response to our counter offer ( no substantial change )
August 1st - We offer to lease only the 1100 Lincoln side of the building.
September 11th - response from landlord " last offer was the final offer "
December 22nd - we sign lease at Neptune Plaza.
December 23rd - landlord will come down a little on rent (about 8 cents/sq. ft.
January 27th ( last Tuesday ) landlord has done some "soul searching " and has agreed to our offer of July 22nd.
At this point we are committed to the Neptune Plaza location.While it is slightly smaller then our current space we remain totally committed to our loyal customers and to Alameda. We will give you a better store and a better shopping experience then you have ever had.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Thanks Dave, appreciate the additional information!

Submitted by Doug Biggs (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

As a west end resident, and running a business that does a lot of purchases at Paganos I am delighted that it will be closer to us. The south shore location has already begun developing a little of that special Paganos quirkiness, and I am sure the new one will as well.

Submitted by Dennis Laine (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

This is the death kneel for Pagano's, it will never be the same again. The present owner's need to change the name to something other than Pagano"s. This includes the nothing store which now is located in South Shore......

Submitted by Pagano's Partisan (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

First, agree with Brian. When the Pagano family separated the business from the location they set the conditions for this outcome. Strange, as families, even when no longer of ownership, seemingly want their namesakes to succeed. Their perogative, whatever, but dissapointing.

Given the way Pagano's has inhabited that location, good luck to the current owner. Finding a tenant(s) willing to accept the space in its current configuration will be a pleasant endeavor. The outlay to remodel the space will necessitate a sizeable rent increase. lol. Good luck with your tenant search, Krinks. Really sucks that that part of Lincoln may suffer as a result of shortsightedness.

Well, looking forward to the new location while mourning the loss of the old. Hope most if not all of the excellent people who have helped me through the labyrinthine aisles are present at the new store.

Thanks for your reporting, Michele. Much success, Dave.

The West End is really on a multi-year upswing. Awesome.

Submitted by Lester Cabral (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

It's a big mistake by the retail owner, what he should do is sell Pagano's
to some one who is willing to keep it a complete Hardware store here in Alameda

Submitted by tim willson (not verified) on Thu, Jan 29, 2015

Man, that just makes me sad. I worked with Myriam, Mary Ann, Andy and Fran. Great people. Where did the time go?

Submitted by Keith Nealy (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

So sorry to learn of this. The new location is much closer to me, but will be nothing like the "real" one. If it's anything like the South Shore store it will be nothing like the old one. If I wanted to actually find something I needed, I always went to the Lincoln store. The South Shore store is rather meager. I don't see any way the Webster store can carry anywhere near the inventory of the Lincoln store, let alone the charm and history. This is a great loss.

Submitted by Jerry Wagner (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

Walk around the store - both levels. I love the hardware selection. They could drop the fountains and other slow sale items and operate well in 2/3 of the space. I lived in San Diego when a similar landlord dispute happened. The space ended up being used for Vietnamese porn. No kidding.

Submitted by b. (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

What is so outrageous about this is that it ties in with what is happening all over The Island: LANDLORD GREED IS DESTROYING THE FABRIC OF THIS COMMUNITY!

Submitted by Ed McLean (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

Look what happened when the Zazzercise people were squeezed out of their building near the High Street bridge. That place hasn't been the same since.

Submitted by Maureen (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

Welcome to the West End. Great things are happening on this end of the Island. We'll have to trust that the new store will be as wonderful as promised, but we are hopeful this will be true!

Submitted by Bette (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

Hope this is not related somehow to the new arrivals that pushed out the Nursery across the street with rent demands. Some idea about building 10 home-cubicles there.

Pagano's always had the edge over Home Despot because you could find the little parts without having to buy a box of 50 when you needed just one part.

Submitted by Potter Stewart (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015


"The space ended up being used for Vietnamese porn. No kidding"

You know this how? :)

Submitted by Kyle Hansen (not verified) on Fri, Jan 30, 2015

Although I respect Dave Giovannoli, this is heartbreaking. Pagano's on Lincoln is an INSTITUTION for pete's sake. Not only is it a mid island anchor for other businesses, but it saves us from having to deal with the congestion of the major arteries of Park St. and Webster St. I know the employees by NAME. This is a sad sad day. Can't we plead with the city to declare Pagano's a Historical Landmark and not allow them to move?

Submitted by Jonesy (not verified) on Sat, Jan 31, 2015

I like the current location on Lincoln, but I live at Park Webster and am thrilled that I can walk 100 yards and shop at a local business to discuss drill bits and plumbing fixtures. The soul of a small business is the people, not the building ... Pagano's will still be in Alameda!

Submitted by Laura (not verified) on Mon, Feb 2, 2015

Bette, regarding nursery/"new arrivals" across the street from Pagano's: Thomsen's Nursery had been for sale (for over a year, according to staff) "but there were no buyers" so the store owners sold the property to a developer. Did any of us actually know that? As a long time customer, I did not, so thank you Michele for covering this specific loss. What I find "sad" is the uniform vision our city manager has for our town, "homes and beaches." Because when we shop, we go where? West End or East End, people: this topic is NOT about equitable access to hardware stores, whether you bike, bus or drive.

Submitted by Eleanor (not verified) on Mon, Feb 2, 2015

I lived in Oakland and always shopped at Grand Lake Ace Hardware in Piedmont near the Safeway. Now this is a terrific hardware store. They always had or could get what I wanted. The store was organized, clean and it is easy to find items. The manager could not be nicer or more helpful. Prices appear to be much cheaper. I would love to shop at Paganos but find it easier to just drive to Grand Ave in Oakland and get what I want at a reasonable price.

I will definitely give Paganos some more chances as it is closer to me now. Hopefully this store will be more organized and a quick in and out without ridiculous prices.

Submitted by Marilyn (not verified) on Tue, Feb 3, 2015

It is a shame that customers and friends of the Retailer were not privy to the year long series of events that led to their decision to move. All of this out-pouring of concerned might have had some influence on the outcome. What does this say about Paganos real attitude about the community? Worth considering.

Submitted by Loves Alameda (not verified) on Thu, Feb 5, 2015

It's the end of Alameda as we know it and I don't feel fine. How devastating. I'm part of the gentrifying home buyers they bought here because of institutions here like Paganos. Again, devastating.

Submitted by Tony (not verified) on Tue, Apr 28, 2015

I'm still hoping somehow, somehow Pagano's can stay in the current location. It's a devastating loss for the mid-island area. And what a perfect tenant for that space! I can't imagine that either:

  1. Pagano's will find as capacious and flexible a space as their current space anywhere else on the island; or that
  2. The landlord will find a tenant suitable for that space.

As a mid-island resident who shops in Pagano's every week, I'm certain it would be worthwhile still to attempt to cobble together a deal here. Let's forget whether there's a good guy or a bad guy in this deal, and see if we can save this mid-island commercial anchor and community center.