Family owned and operated by three generations over 75 years, the Broadway Hardware Company of Kansas City truly is an American success story. 24-year-old Thomas Dyche and his wife Martha opened their business in 1918 at 311 Westport Road, one of only three businesses east of Broadway at the time. Capable of adding large columns of numbers in his head, and always dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt, no matter what the temperature, Thomas was as much a fixture in his store as the giant rolling ladder, the wood floors, the display windows and the hand-cranked cash register with slots for half-dollar and one-dollar coins. In 1973 at age 79, Thomas passed away after having worked six days a week for 55 years with no days off—and apparently with no need for that “air-conditioning hoopla,” either.
Thom’s devotion to customers was legendary. Anne Dyche Herbert recalled the story of her grandmother Martha ironing clothes at home one day when Grandfather Thomas walked in, snatched up Martha’s ironing board and took it back to the store because a customer needed one and there were none in inventory.
The Dyche legacy continued with Thomas’ son Joseph G. Dyche and daughter Betty Jones. Joseph worked at the store 48 years from 1946 to 1994. A third Dyche generation started during the 60s and remained until the store closed in 1994. None were afraid of hard work. One elderly customer during the 80s would frequently purchase an 80-pound bag of concrete. After ringing it up, Joan Neff (Joseph Dyche’s daughter) would throw it over her shoulder and take it to his car. None of that self-service stuff at Broadway Hardware.
As with many family businesses, big-box retailers and E-commerce helped shutter Broadway Hardware. But long after closing, its 1937 neon sign remained one of the oldest neon signs still on display in America. Built by the Kansas City Brilliant Company, LUMI is thrilled to acquire this 16-ft. black porcelain beauty and can’t wait to display it for all to see.