Two invoices from the 1890's

Two invoices from the 1890’s

Our History – The Early Years

Robinsons was opened in 1874 by John Henry Robinson and John Holden. In its early days it was primarily a general mercantile, what we might call a General Store today.

Over the years, the business changed locations and owners several times, always retaining a variation of the original Robinsons name. In the late 1880’s or early 1900’s Sid Robinson bought out Holden and the store was known as J. H. & S. M. Robinson. One interesting form of advertising they used was painting on rocks. In 1931 the name was changed to Robinsons Hardware Company.

Our History – The Middle Years

On Labor Day weekend of 1963, Norm and Marion Underwood took over ownership of the company. Coinciding with their acquisition of the company, they added a Tay-Lo Rental Franchise making them one of the very first franchisees of what would become known as Taylor Rental in 1965.  In 1966 the business expanded into an adjacent store front at 29 Main Street.

The business continued to grow and prosper. In April, 1974 the business moved to their current location, a long vacant former Grant’s Department store. Also in 1974 son Dirk left a position with Taylor Rental Corporation to work full-time for his father. He was joined by his brother Kim in 1978.

1978 was also the year Robinsons Hardware left the world of being an independent hardware store and joined the True Value Hardware Cooperative. Jeff Underwood joined his father and brothers at the business in 1982.

Business grew through the 80’s and into the 90’s. The business had four strong segments: Hardware (it’s primary focus); Tool Rental; Party Rental and Power Equipment sales and service. In 1996 they acquired another party rental operation and saw the party rental division grow tremendously. The family also mourned the passing family matriarch, Marion Underwood.

Mr. Norm Underwood with Mr. Ron Bissonette (Taylor Rental Corp), Mr. Charlie O'Donnell and Judge August Bonnazzoli

Mr. Norm Underwood with Mr. Ron Bissonette (Taylor Rental Corp), Mr. Charlie O’Donnell and Judge August Bonnazzoli

Mr. Norman Underwood and mechanic Douglas Gould when we were located on Main Street in Hudson

Mr. Norman Underwood and mechanic Douglas Gould when we were located on Main Street in Hudson

Robinsons Hardware and Rental's current Hudson Location - Circa 1950's

Robinsons Hardware and Rental’s current Hudson Location – Circa 1950’s

Norm Underwood

Norm Underwood

Our History – The Next Generation

1997 was a busy year for Robinsons. Norm Underwood turned over control of the business to the three brothers. The brothers chose to leave the True-Value cooperative and joined the Ace Hardware Cooperative. The brothers felt there was untapped potential for Party Rental in the Hudson market and chose to close the second location of party rental and brought all the party rental inventory to Hudson. Despite closing the second location, party rental sales increased.

In 1998 the store underwent a major refurbishment, including major reconstruction of the entrance and exit area, new lighting and vastly improved merchandising. This renovation, which was encouraged by Ace, was key to rejuvenating the business. The growth of party rental, which is capital intensive, caused the brothers to sell the division in 1999. This change allowed them to focus on their core businesses which were more complementary to each other.

2000 saw the passing of Norm Underwood.
It seemed as if all of Hudson mourned the loss.

In 2003 the brothers again expanded the business by adding a second location in Framingham and in 2006 added rental at the second location.

In 2009, the brothers decided to leave the Ace Hardware Co-operative and joined forces with the Do It Best Cooperative. The change allowed them to better service their customers and added the ability to order over 70,000 items from their own warehouse.

Our Hudson, MA location

Our History – The Future

As we near the end of the first 20 years of the third century we have existed in, we continually re-invent ourselves by adding new items and services.  Some of the newer lines we have brought on include Jonathan Green grass seed and fertilizers, Carhartt clothing, Redmax landscaping equipment and Ariens Snow blowers as well as the ability to do “chip” and “laser-cut” keys for cars and double (and even triple) pane window glass.

Our Framingham, MA Location