Cudmore: Larrabee’s was a well known Amsterdam hardware store

In 1919, eight years after founder John E. Larrabee had died, 16-year old Theodore “Ted” Krown of Amsterdam got a job at Larrabee’s, a Market Street hardware store.

Larrabee had begun his hardware career working for merchant Edwin T. Leavenworth.  Larrabee married Leavenworth’s daughter Louise in 1889.

When the Sanford Homestead Building was constructed in 1891 by carpet magnate Stephen Sanford on the east side of Market Street, Larrabee opened his own hardware store in the building.

Larrabee’s 1911 obituary reported his store had become the most successful hardware business in Amsterdam.

E. Warner Leavenworth, who became store manager after Larrabee died, was Edwin T. Leavenworth’s son and Larrabee’s brother-in-law.

Salesman Krown would be at Larrabee’s a long time.  During the 1969 company Christmas party at the Tower Inn in Cranesville, Krown recalled what Market Street was like a half century earlier.  He received a wristwatch and tie clasp from fellow workers.

The Recorder reported that Krown was born on Amsterdam’s Union Street and attended Eighth Ward Elementary School: “The veteran salesman began (at Larrabee’s) under the tutelage of E. Warner Leavenworth and after an apprenticeship of ‘lugging in freight and unpacking’ he was entrusted with clerking responsibilities.”

Larrabee’s sold retail and wholesale hardware and provided supplies for industries.  Located at 5 Market St., the store expanded to 3 Market St., previously home to the Odd Figure Bazaar.  Larrabee’s also expanded in the other direction and took over 9 Market St.

The 1969 Recorder wrote that for salesman Krown, “Household wares were the early emphasis and gradually he graduated to appliances as labor savers were introduced to lighten housework.”

Krown said, “I started the other day to jot down names of people with whom I’ve worked in this store and I stopped when I reached 200. About 85 of them are dead.”  The workers Krown mentioned were Irving DeGraff, Harley DeGraff and Frank Dean.

Krown married Laura Martin in 1930.  They lived at 344 Division St.  Laura worked at Blood Knitting Mill.

Krown was one of the pall bearers when E. Warner Leavenworth died in 1940.  Larrabee’s employees joining him in that task were Frank Putman, Benjamin Wendell, Frank Conrad, Sidney Lyke and Herbert Breen.

E. Warner Leavenworth’s son Tom, who had joined the firm in 1931, became company president in 1940.

Larrabee’s was sold in 1960 and Tom Leavenworth pursued other business ventures, including his work as treasurer of Inman Manufacturing, which made machinery for the box making industry.

The new owners of Larrabee’s, Ailing Beardsley and Mary Louise Rossiter, began an expansion in 1961, putting emphasis on selling items to new industries that were starting as Amsterdam’s carpet mills exited.  Beardsley and Rossiter expanded appliance sales along with Larrabee’s previous emphasis on hardware, housewares, gifts and toys.

Beardsley, a World War II infantry veteran, had operated an industrial supply firm in New Jersey.  He was married to Carol Rossiter.  She was originally from Albany and related to Mary Louise Rossiter, who lived in Slingerlands and headed an Albany real estate firm.

They kept Samuel H. Anderson, who was active in local politics, as Larrabee’s manager.  Within a few years though Anderson started his own sporting goods retail company.  In 1967 he left for a department store position in Los Angeles.

In late 1971 Larrabee’s moved to the former Sears store location at 86 East Main St. to make way for a new bank building on Market Street.

In 1972 Beardsley’s son, also named Ailing, was made store retail manager and was up for an award from the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Larrabee’s filed for bankruptcy in January 1973.

Categories: The Daily Gazette

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