This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published July 30, 2019
A lot may have changed over the past eight decades, but there are two places that have been a mainstay on the Guilford Green for 80 years. Both Page Hardware and Frank’s Package Store opened for business in 1939. While Frank’s originally opened a few doors down in what is now Evergreen Fine Crafts before moving to its current location, Page’s has been in its building since opening its doors.
Both businesses are now being run by the third generation of their families, with Andrew Page at the helm of the hardware store and Kirsta Ifkovic having taken ownership from her dad this past February. Having been in business next to each other for so many years, the Page family and Ifkovic family share many memories.
“I basically grew up next to the Pages and Andrew is like a brother to me,” said Ifkovic. “I remember always seeing them at the store and I remember his older brothers and the other kids who all worked there when I was younger.”
Page Hardware Co.
The hardware store has been a part of Andrew Page’s life for as long as he can remember. He grew up going to work with his father, uncles, three brothers, and cousins and he is now a third-generation owner of the family business.
“When I was a kid, it was a ton of fun and at different points, there were six or seven Pages in the building,” said Page. “I’m super thankful for that now because I’ve known tons of customers since I was a kid.”
While Page learned a lot from his family—his grandfather was the founder and his father and uncles then took over—he also learned from the customers. When they came to the store, if they asked him for a product he didn’t know about, he always asked them about it and the projects they were working on.
“Our focus is always taking care of the customer with the hopes they come back,” said Page. “I don’t know how to do any differently than how we do.”
Page worked at the store throughout high school. When he went to college, he wasn’t sure if he’d return to work at the store. A couple of years after completing his degree, Page’s dad Logan was ready to retire and Page’s uncle Stephen was running the day-to-day operation of the store.
Page decided to return to town and partner with his uncle. The pair worked together for nearly 20 years before his uncle retired. He is grateful for the years working alongside his uncle, whom he credits for teaching him about the business and helping him refine his business skills.
Things have come full circle for Page. He has two sons, who are both in college. Like their father, both boys spent much of their childhood helping at the store, eventually working there like so many members of the Page family before them.
“It has been super rewarding to see them in the store doing the same things I did as a young guy,” said Page. “I was especially thrilled that they both had pleasure of working with Roger Tucker, who worked here for more than 60 years. Having them have that opportunity meant a ton to me.”
While Page has loved seeing his boys in the store, there are no plans for a fourth-generation takeover at this time.
“My parents never gave us any pressure to take over and I want my boys to do what makes them happy,” said Page.
For now, Page is concentrating on helping his customers at the store and continuing to provide the service on which the Page family has prided itself for generations. He has always loved living in Guilford, but now more than ever, his appreciation for the community has grown.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate our role within the community more and I understand it better,” said Page. “The south end of the Guilford Green is a pretty special place. By today’s standards, our store is tiny, but there’s a lot of charm and character that comes with it and I enjoy the fact we work out of a building that was built in the 1850s.
“I’m proud of the men and women who have worked with us and helped us be successful over the years,” said Page. “There are a lot of men and women with a different last name than Page who have worked incredibly hard and I’m incredibly proud we’re still here.”
Frank’s Package Store
Much like Page, Kirsta Ifkovic grew up familiar with the family business. Her grandfather, Frank J. Ifkovic, Sr., opened the store in the Evergreen location with a partner, John Leahy, in 1939. He left to go to war and when he came back he bought Leahy’s share, eventually moving to the store’s current location.
“I remember when my grandfather was alive, I went to Kiddie Kollege up the street and he would pick me up and bring me to the store,” said Kirsta Ifkovic. “I’d sit there quietly while he worked until my dad picked me up. I remember the mailman would come in and tell us what was going on in town. You’re really part of the community.”
In 1969, Ifkovic’s father Frank J. Ifkovic, Jr., came to work at the store, purchasing the store from his father in 1975. In the 1980s, Ifkovic, Jr., purchased the adjoining alleyway and expanded the store to the side and the back.
As Kirsta Ifkovic got a little older, she began to help out around the store, shadowing her older brother and sister as they dusted bottles and stocked shelves. Once she was old enough, Ifkovic began working the register and helping customers.
“When I was younger, all three of us worked here alongside dad and then my sister got other employment and it me and my brother,” said Ifkovic. “It was nice because you’re learning the family business.”
While Ifkovic enjoyed her time working in the store, in her 20s, she decided to venture into “corporate America” where she worked for many years. Though she still lived in Guilford during that time, she worked long hours and often didn’t have time to stay involved in community events and happenings.
When Ifkovic, Jr., decided it was time to retire, he emailed his three children to see if anyone wanted to take over the store. Ifkovic decided to leave the corporate world behind and rejoin her family’s business.
“When I was little girl, I always thought I’d end up back in the store and that it would always be a part of our family,” said Ifkovic. “It’s just amazing the way things happen in life to get this opportunity.”
Though Ifkovic took over as owner this past February, her dad has still been working a few days a week as she relearns the family business. She not only has continued to learn from her dad and remember things her brother had taught her, but she is rebuilding her connections in the community.
“It’s a very unique business and I’m happy to learn from my dad like he learned from his dad. It will be bittersweet when he fully retires this month, but I know my dad is always here for me if I have any questions,” said Ifkovic, who also noted she learned a lot about wine from both her dad and her brother. “I’m remembering the customers from when I was a kid and reintroducing myself to the community.”
The community is what Ifkovic remembers the most from her time growing up in the business. Now that she is a third-generation owner of her family business, she intends to continue to appreciate their location on the Guilford Green and the other businesses that make up that community.
“We have such a nice community here and it’s so wonderful to be a part of it,” she said. “I feel blessed. It’s a great location with wonderful merchants all around the green. We try to stay involved through the Chamber of Commerce and try to parter with Page’s and Evergreen if they want to do a function. It’s like family. We try to support each other.”