WEIRTON — What began as a celebration of 100 years of history for a local business ended with the announcement it soon would be closing its doors.
Surrounded by family and friends at the American Legion Post 10 hall Saturday afternoon, Fred Marsh, owner of Marsh Pipe and Supply, announced the business operated by his family for the last century would cease operations later this summer. Marsh detailed how his grandfather’s brother, George H. Marsh, in March 1920, bought into the Purdy General Store in what is now Weirton’s downtown. Soon after, he would take over the business, asking his brother, Milton Ross Marsh, to move to Weirton, and, in 1921, Marsh Brothers Hardware was born.
The business grew, at one point operating two stores, and continuing down through the family, first to William F. Marsh and then to Fred S. Marsh at its current location at 3070 Pennsylvania Ave.
In making the announcement Saturday, Fred Marsh explained, despite the years of being a part of the Weirton community and the pride his family has taken in operating the business, it has become too difficult to keep it going.
“Coming this summer, we’re going to shut it down,” he said.
While noting many of the successes of the business throughout its history, Marsh explained there have been mounting challenges in recent years, with 2020 in particular throwing new obstacles in the way.
“This year has really been bad,” Marsh said, explaining the effects of national political decisions and the COVID pandemic have added new costs while increasing others, and made it difficult to acquire stock of many of the products the store has sold, including toilets, sinks, paints and water heaters. “We cannot get plastic pipe.”
Several areas of their shelves, usually filled with product, now sit empty, he said.
Marsh noted he had reached out for assistance, hoping to find someone interested in buying in to the business to keep it going, but found no one wanting to operate a hardware store in the area.
“Nobody wants to come to Weirton. The numbers are not here,” he said.
Marsh said he still believes in the possibilities for Weirton’s future, recalling the sense of community which has always been a part of the city.
“This was a hell of a town. It still can be a hell of a town,” he said, sharing a statement told to him by his late father.
“A city is a circle on a map, but what’s inside that circle is what makes it a community,” he said.
(Howell can be contacted at [email protected], and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)