Travel with Bennett-Watt and discover the Kaffie Frederick hardware store in Natchitoches, the oldest business in the state
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Kaffie Frederick Hardware Store in Natchitoches Louisiana
Luke: I am Luke Frederick we are in Kaffie Frederick Hardware Store we’ve been operating on Front Street here Natchitoches since 1863. Natchitoches is the oldest French Settlement in Lousiana parches and we have the fortunate designation of being the oldest business in the oldest city. So we are very proud of that fact. Because if you look around, the interior is a 1930’s interior.
It was remodelled in 1932, in the midst of the Depression and hopes that if the business survived the Depression. It would have the most modern facility to operate that up. It did survive and through the later 30’s, 40’s and 50’s group to be one of the largest department stores in North Louisiana.
In 1920, my grandfather came into the store as a floor sweeper. He came in and it was interested in the business, he was very little formal education only had 8th Grade education. But it was very savvy. He is for a street smart and business smart.
So he teamed with the Kaffie brothers, the 2nd generation of Kaffie cousin of some sort and they continue to grow the business. And the second cousin, Sydney Kaffie stayed and my grandfather eventually became his business partner, working his way up to the ranks from floor sweeper to manager.
Male: Luke’s father moved into the business after serving in the Korean War. And after college, Luke, 23 follow and now he and his wife are in this remarkable store. In this time of large discount hardware and variety stores, Kaffie Frederick is real common. About small business can flourish and expand against such competition.
Luke: You do what you have to do to stay progressive but at the same time just preserve the ambience. And preserve the nostalgic setting that it is just here, it’s not contract, it is just this is the way it was. This is the way is going to remain when we hear the comment when people walk in the door. Just haven’t seen a store like this in 70 years and they are 90.
It’s heart warming and it is just provides encouragement for us not to go the rout of the Walmart and the Home Depots and the Ace Hardwares. And the True Value Hard Ware with a pretty slick, shiny stores, it is fun and its fun to see the smile on people’s faces. It is fun to realize you help someone when they have a problem with their faucet.
You make a difference in somebody’s life regardless of how small it is when they are unable to help themselves. You can help them get - it is something done, it is something fixed or something that makes their life a little easier. When it is working properly - that is just what we do and we love it.