It’s been five decades since Mark Nixon’s brother and dad opened the doors of B&B on 5th Street in Hawthorne, and the business has grown, physically and financially, ever since.
Decades ago, a small building with white clapboard siding was moved a few blocks down the street and, in 1963, became the home of B&B Hardware.
Eventually Nixon bought into the store. Today, Nixon and his wife Cindy are the owners and operators of a mid-sized store that fronts for an expansive nursery; several hoop houses for winter crops; and a demonstration chicken coop that gives shelter to a handful of formerly feral chickens Cindy rescued from the corrals.
“It’s what I grew up with, it’s just a lifestyle for me,” Mark Nixon said. “It’s just what I do.”
Since 1963, the building has more than doubled in size — built almost entirely by Mark Nixon’s own hand, he said.
The yard and building were pieced together slowly through the decades. Inside, beams still show the location of original walls, and the lot out back is a collection of relocated homes, lumber sheds, and metal from a long-departed car dealership.
With its small-town feel, B&B Hardware has attracted a devoted following from people looking to build a chicken coop — Cindy Nixon called this one of the most memorable projects because “chickens are the rage right now” — to contractors working at the Hawthorne Army Depot.
“New customers come in, and they wander, and they like this place,” Mark Nixon said. “It’s just a friendly atmosphere for them.”
The atmosphere is one of the keys to the business’ success.
“[All our customers] are all memorable,” Cindy Nixon said. “We joke around with a lot of our customers. And we also try to seriously help them with their projects or their ideas as well. Some of them, they’re like family. They’ve been coming in for years.”
The shop’s friendly atmosphere is complemented by a genuine desire to help customers, and be up honest with them. Mark Nixon also said he and his wife constantly price check things in their store against larger stores in other cities to make sure they’re staying competitive.
But unlike some larger stores, the Nixons are happy to help customers plan projects.
“People come in here and say ‘I want to do this, show me what I want,’” Mark Nixon said. “So you’ve got to go through it step by step by step and actually put it together for them. Then, hopefully, they remember it when they get home. […] There’s been more businesses and houses plumbed on the floor of our plumbing section then you can imagine.”