Heritage \ Writings \ Industry: Merchants

John W. Putz Hardware Store
50th anniversary article.
  • Donated by Clarence and Gladys Stroemer. (Jan. 2005)

  • (Picture included in article.)

    The Bay City Times - January 2, 1966.




    You can still buy wooden barrels, old-fashioned crocks and jugs, oil lamps and lanterns at the John W. Putz Hardware, 201 Salzburg Ave., just as you could 50 years ago when the store first opened.

    Now a modern retail hardware corporation, the firm this year celebrates its 50th anniversary of its founding on Jan. 3, 1916.

    Although the stock offered at Putz’s has changed from farm machinery and household goods to electrical appliances, hardware, paints and garden implements, the store still sells some of the old items.

    “We believe the sore is unique in being the only place in Bay City where barrels and crocks and some other old style goods may still be purchased,” says, Ronald J. Putz, vice-president.

    He adds they “are almost a trade in themselves.”

    These items must be purchased especially from manufactures in Kentucky and Ohio which ship to this area only when Putz’s pools its order with stores in Midland and Saginaw which also handle them.

    The building which still houses Putz’s was built in 1898 and operated as a hardware by George L. Frank.

    John W. Putz was a 44-year-old retired Lutheran school teacher when he bought the hardware in partnership with Adam Staudacher, a 46-year-old farmer and thresher, in 1916.

    Staudacher remained in the business 13 months and then sold out to Putz. The original stock cost $7,700.

    Putz was born in Bavaria and came to this country at age 13 to live with his sister in Frankenmuth. He was graduated from Evangelical Lutheran Teachers Seminary, Addison, Ill., in 1895 and taught at Reese and at Zion Lutheran School here, until retiring in 1915.

    For six months he was in piano sales on Saginaw Street in partnership with Robert Forsythe, before he discontinued that venture and went into the hardware business.

    Known than as the Salzburg Hardware Co., the store had mostly farm trade from the western Bay County area along with the Salzburg area of Bay City, both heavily populated with German-born people.

    Among items handled by the store in the early years were farm machinery, heavy hardware, horse blankets, gasoline, auto tires, pianos, “talking machines,” furniture, furnaces, wind mills, ice boxes and other items for the rural trade.

    In the 1920s the firm began selling building materials, and in 1925 first sold radios. Later electric refrigerators, DeLaval separators, milking machines, and electric washing machines appeared in the advertising of the hardware.

    For a number of years the Salzburg Hardware held an annual “farmers’ day,” at which free entertainment and free lunch were offered. The last one was in 1941, the firm’s 25th anniversary.

    In 1946 the firm, then known as The John W. Putz Hardware, purchased a warehouse at 306 Salzburg Ave., and in 1947 the exterior of the main building was remodeled.

    A complete remodeling was done after a fire May 5, 1964, in which damage was estimated at $25,000.

    After the elder Putz died in 1937, a corporation was formed, but the original name was kept. Mrs. John W. Putz became president upon her husband’s death. She died in 1957.

    Officers of the corporation now are Theodore Putz, son of the founder, president; Ronald Putz, son of Theodore, vice-president; Clemens Putz, another son of the founder, treasurer; and Mrs. Fred Gerhauser, a daughter of John W. Putz, secretary.

    George C. Wendt, 70, and Mrs. Gerhauser, 63, both of whom started with the firm in 1917, are still working part-time in the hardware.

    Related Pages & Notes

    John W. Putz
    People Referenced
    Forsythe, Robert
    Frank, George L.
    Gerhauser, Fred Mrs.
    Putz, Clemens
    Putz, John W.
    Putz, John W. Mrs.
    Putz, Ronald J.
    Putz, Theodore
    Staudacher, Adam
    Wendt, George C.
    Subjects Referenced
    Addison, IL
    Bay City, MI
    Bay County, MI
    Evangelical Lutheran Teachers Sem.
    Frankenmuth, MI
    Midland, MI
    Reese, MI
    Saginaw, MI
    Salzburg Hardware Co.
    Zion Lutheran School
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.