Virgil’s Hardware Closing After 115 Years

First published in the Oct. 30 print issue of the Glendale News Press. By Jonathan Williams

After more than a century, there are no more eggs left in this basket — Virgil’s Hardware in Glendale is closing its doors for good.
Though the longtime establishment was a favorite among novice fixer-uppers, crafters, movie set designers and professional contractors alike due to the attentive customer service and unique — even bizarre — products, Virgil’s ownership said it would not relocate after recently losing its lease. Virgil’s last day is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 14, and the store will go the way of other nearby, family-founded businesses that have closed in recent years.
The store at 520 N. Glendale Ave. is owned by Neiman Reed Lumber Co., which also founded the California DIY Home Centers, and will disperse Virgil’s remaining inventory and employees among the other DIY locations in Burbank, Tujunga, Agoura and Thousand Oaks.
News of the closure has generated hundreds of comments across social media from customers lamenting the demise of the landmark and the quirky products they have found there over the years.
Virgil’s manager Ryan Saucier said he empathized — he, too, is sad to see the store go, especially since he’s been working at the location for more than 20 years. Saucier had just become a father when he got his start in Virgil’s plumbing department in 2002, and he became store manager just last month.
“Virgil’s means a lot to me,” Saucier said. “This was my first real job. I needed something stable and, at the time, plumbing wasn’t that stable for me. I was able to grow here. I was able to provide for my family. The owners and the managers all believed in me. It’s really hard to see it go.”
Upon hearing that the store would close, Saucier said customers began calling the location nonstop to ask if it could be saved. After some research, he noted, it came to light that the store was losing its lease. According to a proposal filed to the Glendale Planning Commission in July, a development was in the works to construct an 85,505-square-foot assisted living care/memory care center at the site.
“I don’t see how that is going to work,” Saucier said. “This is a unique area. I think that the negative impact it will have on Glendale will outweigh the good.”
Virgil’s Hardware opened in 1906; it was founded by Virgil Brinkman and passed on to his descendants. According to local news archives, Tony Maniscalchi, a former employee of the store, purchased Virgil’s in 1996 from second-generation owner Bob Brinkman. Maniscalchi then sold to the ownership of Do-It Center hardware in 2009.
“Virgil’s is going to be gone no matter what,” Saucier said. “I’m grateful for the city of Glendale and always supporting the store. They have been wanting to come here and seeking us out. The community has always embraced us. I’m sad for the community to lose it.”
Other than hardware, Virgil’s is known for its eggs, whose sale can be traced to the original owners. Recently, the fridge still sat near the automatic sliding doors that have seen thousands of customers. But now, water bottles occupied the place where the eggs once sat.
“During the pandemic, the farm had us as a priority,” Saucier said. “We were able to get eggs while a lot of the other grocery stores couldn’t. So we were able to provide eggs to our customers pretty regularly, and that really helped out.”
Virgil’s counted on loyal customers visiting from all over the Southland, often coaxed by the supply of sauerkraut or staff members who would examine a broken screw to find the match.
Trace De La Torre, a Glenoaks Canyon resident and film producer, has been coming to Virgil’s for more than 40 years.
“This is just heartbreaking,” De La Torre said. “I’ve been coming since I was little. The customer service has always been amazing, and you always find great things.”
She said she could always find what she needed, from Christmas decorations to pet food and even plants.
“When you walk through the door you get that old school feeling. … The moment you walk in and the moment you walk out, you’re smiling. If you can’t find something, someone will always come and help you,” said De La Torre, adding she was shocked when she found out the mainstay was closing. “I was crushed. My husband and I have been coming here forever. It’s the neighborhood place to come. You would see your friends, especially during the holidays. It really bonded the community.”
With the more than century-long history of Virgil’s, she added, Glendale will be losing a piece of its history and its community.
“I don’t see anybody going to Home Depot or Lowe’s,” she said. “You don’t get the personalized care and the nostalgic feeling this place provides.”
Loyal customer Daniel Barnes grew up in Glendale and now lives here part time. He’s been coming to Virgil’s since 1955 with his father. His primary residence is in Costa Mesa.
“I’m sad to see them go,” Barnes said, noting that many of the unique, smaller products he’s always found here aren’t stocked at larger stores.
“I remember my first car was an Austin-Healey back in 1972. … I started working on my own car just because I got the supplies here,” he added.
Barnes said he will miss the people the most, along with the convenience.