By Ed Martin, Editor
Ann and Bob Badasci in front of their Lemoore Hardware Store, which they have owned and operated for 50 years.
Ann and Bob Badasci in front of their Lemoore Hardware Store, which they have owned and operated for 50 years.
Photo by Gary Feinstein

Are you looking for something to do in May? Well, suppose you’re a shopper and looking for a deal that includes a complimentary Saturday barbecue and a shot at $2,500 in prizes. In that case, you might want to visit one of Lemoore’s longest-serving businesses, where you can participate in a special anniversary.

The business in question is Lemoore Hardware, located at 217 West D Street, right in the heart of downtown Lemoore. It is indeed a town icon, which is the reason for the month-long celebration.

Bob and Ann Badasci, the store owners, bought the longtime hardware store in 1973, and they have operated Lemoore Hardware for exactly half a century, hence the store’s 50-year celebration in May.

In the Seventies, the new owners remained at the old store’s location for a while before deciding that they needed additional space and moved to its current location where – except for those first few years of ownership – they have conducted business.

“We were in business at 309 West D Street, next to Crocker Bank (where Wells Fargo is now),” said  Bob Badasci, Lemoore High School’s student body president in 1957-58 and civic-minded citizen. He has also been active in community affairs, having served on the Lemoore Planning Commission and also served time on the Kings County Planning Commission.

“I worked at the tire business, sold real estate, and, as an accountant, it was too hard for me to sit behind a desk.” He took a stab at farming (he still farms today) and then got into the hardware business.”

“The original hardware store has actually been around since 1911,” said Anne Badasci, Bob’s partner in business and marriage. She told The Leader the original business license went back to 1911.

The restaurant, Tadeo’s, currently operates its business in the downtown building where the original Lemoore Hardware operated. “We were young and had three or four kids at the time, and we saw an opportunity to do something on our own. It came up for sale, and we bought it,” remembered Ann.

“That little store (adjacent to Crocker Bank) was only 25 feet wide. We just outgrew the old store,” she recalled. “We bought it on May 1, 1973, and we were there until 1977.”

Bob Badasci is also quite the farmer. “We also have Badasci Farm products,” he told The Leader. “We grow raisins, pomegranates, pistachios, and persimmons,” he said. An impressive array of his packaged farm products is displayed prominently in Lemoore Hardware.

Lemoore Hardware’s longest-serving employee had to be Gene Ornellas, a next-door neighbor who went to work for Bob and Ann in the new hardware store.

Bob and Ann Badasci with the store's employees, Jim Pedulla, Joyce Smith, Diana Torres, and Vicki Wood.
Bob and Ann Badasci with the store's employees, Jim Pedulla, Joyce Smith, Diana Torres, and Vicki Wood.
Photo by Gary Feinstein

“He worked from day one until his retirement four years ago. He was a hard worker. I don’t think he missed a day of work,” recalled Bob Badasci. “He was a faithful employee. He did what had to be done without asking him to do it.”

The local hardware store keeps improving. Bob and Ann have added merchandise to the decades-long business.

“I think we would be (longest serving business) in Lemoore. I can’t quote it for sure, but I believe so,” added Bob.

Lemoore Hardware’s current manager is Jim Pedulla, who works with Joyce Smith, Diana Torres, and Vicki Wood. Other employees include a granddaughter, Audrey Badasci; daughter Diane Badasci, Edgar Lepez; Kathy McDonald, Teri Norwood, bookkeeper; and Loretta Salas, Diana Torres, and Ray Wyatt. The staff and others have plenty to do this month as the 50th anniversary year kicks in.

Bob and Ann have plenty in store for Lemoore Hardware shoppers in their store’s 50th-anniversary celebration in June, including Saturday barbecues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the store’s parking lot. Drawings will be held for gift certificates, and all tickets will be entered in a grand drawing. There could be plenty of winners.

And, on that last weekend of celebration, all tickets for the month will be put in for a grand drawing for gifts, including the grand prize, a four-piece wicker outdoor furniture set valued at $1,299.

The second prize is a Weber gas grill, and the third place prize is a five-piece patio set.  

How does it feel to be in business for so long?  “It’s been good because you meet so many people and help so many [people on many different projects. Our loyal customers are what made our business.” A lot of Oldtimers still come in,” said Ann Badasci.

While browsing Lemoore Hardware, you might stroll through the next-door furniture store where furniture galore awaits customers looking for top-notch furniture.