Merchant of the Week: Do-it-yourselfer JoAnn Virag of Millwood Hardware

millwood hardware
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
by Rob Greenstein

Last week, I spoke with Millwood Hardware owner JoAnn Virag, who took over the store from her father in the late 80’s.

(1) How long have you and your hardware store been a member of our community?

Millwood Hardware has been a member of the community since 1968.  Without giving away my age, I’ve worked here my whole life,  I took the store over from my dad in the late 1980’s and have been running it ever since.

(2) At the risk of being politically incorrect, I think it’s safe to say that you’re in a field mostly dominated by men, what sparked your interest in this area?

Yes, this is a field that is still dominated by men.  Luckily for me, that did not stop my father from involving me in the business.  I loved working at the store, whenever needed.  This included after school, snow days, vacations and summer breaks.  Anyone who has ever worked in a family business can relate.  My hardware knowledge and interest comes from helping my father build our family home on his time off.  I loved helping him hands-on.  Since he worked six days a week, this construction project went on for quite some time.  Then when I bought my first home, I intended to just do a little remodeling but ended up gutting the house.  I truly enjoy the hands-on aspect of fixing and/or building something.  I love when a customer comes in and asks for help.  I’m able to base it on first-hand experiences.

(3) You are next to a New Castle landmark—Rocky’s—does your location help business?

Being next to Rocky’s Deli definitely helps!  Since they are such a landmark, many times when people call for directions, we can easily use Rocky’s as a point of reference.  We often get customers who come in to wander as their order is being filled.

(4) What makes your store different than a box store like Home Depot?

I think what differentiates us from the big box stores is our customer service, our friendliness and our knowledge of hardware.  We try to greet each customer that comes in, see what they need help with and then guide them towards a solution.  In our 44 years of being a part of this community, we have developed a lot of friendships. But I also hope we have developed a reputation that you can come to us with your project, no matter how big or how small, and we will have what you need and show you how to use all of it.  I frequently hear customers comment about the wide variety of merchandise we carry.  We also try to keep the store well organized and clean, making it an welcoming environment.  And, of course, our staff is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.  Over the summer, we hope to do an interior remodel.  This will give us a face lift and hopefully find room for new product lines. 

(5) Does your inventory change a lot with the seasons?

Absolutely.  We are a seasonal business.  Around the holidays, we carry holiday decorations, and everything you need to spruce up your house for guests.  During the winter, there is usually a need for ice melt, snow shovels, and fireplace supplies.  Spring time brings all the merchandise you need for spring clean-up and home repair.  We carry items for yard work including grass seed, fertilizers, hoses, sprinklers and gardening tools.  And for your barbecuing we carry Weber grills, parts and accessories.  If the Weber grill you’re looking for is not in the store, we can order the model you want.  The fall is for all those projects you put off all summer long, because you were relaxing and enjoying.  Projects that need tending before the cold winter hits.  We also carry a wide variety of homewares throughout the year.

(6) What’s the benefit of your affiliation with True Value?

By being a member of True Value, we’re able to purchase from their warehouse instead of direct from the manufacturers.  This allows us to carry a wider breadth of merchandise.  It also enables us to get more competitive pricing as True Value has the buying power of 4,000 stores.  We are now a proud carrier of Benjamin Moore paints, and, of course, we carry True Value paints. They will also provide professional merchandisers to help with the layout of the merchandise.  They even have a store design division.  In fact, they are drawing up our remodeling plans.

(7) What do you think the town could do to make conditions better for business in Millwood?

I love being a part of a small community—this community!  But sometimes I wish New Castle would put more emphasis on Millwood, not just Chappaqua.  I feel we have a lot to offer, and sometimes we’re forgotten.

(8) Do you do a lot of special orders?

We do a lot of special orders.  Unfortunately, we’re confined by our space.  The store is about 5,000 square feet and we have over 7,000 square feet of storage.  As I said earlier, we try to carry a wide range of products and a blend of what our customers are looking for.  But only so much will fit.  And this is another advantage of being a member of True Value, we can order anything out of their catalog.  If it’s in stock, we’ll have it in days.  The customer comes in, and if it’s not what they want, we’ll simply ship it back—no obligations.  Hopefully the remodel will help us create more shelf space.

(9) Any special discounts for NewCastleNOW readers who mention this article?

NewcastleNOW readers are welcome to stop by, say hello, and if they mention this article, they will receive a free 25 foot tape measure, while supplies last.

Millwood Hardware

235 Saw Mill River Rd
Millwood, N.Y. 10546

Hours: Mon-Fri 7:45 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 7:45 am - 5:00 pm
Sun: Closed

Phone: 914-762-2828


Visit’s Business Section to see other “Merchant of the Week” pieces by Rob Greenstein.

We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Great Neiborhood Store…Friendly, helpfull,able to buy small quantities of nuts,bolts,screws etc NOT available at Big Box Stores.
ALSO a Millwood Landmark.

By MS-WestEnd on 01/17/2012 at 11:16 am

If we like stores like this to exist in our Community, what steps is our Community taking to keep Ms. Virag’s property Taxes down or at a minimum stable??

Will we give this store owner the ability to add a second floor without going through a multi year approval process and spending over $80,000 on Town required consultants?? At some point, those in power and position need to proactively relax the laws and standards that presently exist that would stand in her way to accomplish such a project, or just not make it worth it to proceed.

Wouldn’t an office for a Lawyer or Accountant be nice to have on top of this building; or both?? This type of thinking helps New Castle collect a stable base of Commercial Taxes that does not use up resources like our School System. The existing Commercial Base throughout New Castle is in peril due to many years of not understanding what needs to be planned, designed, built, and accomplished within a reasonable amount of time; 12 months or less. Not years!!

By Very nice store! on 01/17/2012 at 11:26 am

This is a terrific neighborhood hardware store.  So often, the choice seems to be between a big-box store where you can find what you need—as long as you need two dozen of them and can drive 10 miles to get them—or a hardware store that caters to contractors and treats homeowners with indifference.  This store always makes me feel welcome, is always helpful and has a surprisingly wide selection.  It is a great store to have in Millwood.

By John Turitzin on 01/20/2012 at 7:49 am

It’s been wonderful having such a well stocked hardware store right next door.JoAnn always seems to have just what you need in stock. No need to go to Home Depot.

By Robert Mavian DVM on 01/20/2012 at 8:27 am

Great comments by Very Nice Store. I agree with these comments whole heartedly.
Thanks for this excellent article about one of my favorite stores in our Millwood Hamlet.

By sara brewster on 01/20/2012 at 8:49 am

This is the greatest hardware store!  I can ALWAYS find what I need.  Delightful and helpful people to assist you.  It is truly a pleasure to shop here.

By PG-Mt. Kisco on 01/20/2012 at 1:03 pm

Some of my fondest early memories are of wandering around the neighborhood hardware store on Saturday morning while my dad was picking up something or other for the latest fix-it-up or remodeling project. Fantastic tools that performed unimaginable tasks, vats of funny little gizmos, smells of paint and grease and wood and metal…my dad would have to drag me out of there.

I can get back to that feeling any time I walk into Millwood Hardware. Funny, but I never feel that way at Home Depot. You have to go there sometimes, but usually it’s with a sense of dread.

By Tom Pile on 01/21/2012 at 11:39 am

Great store, fantastic help. Always make an effort to get what you need if they don’t have it. Introduced me to “Stabilicers” great for getting around on the ice. Have even bought birthdays gifts there!!

By patcullen on 01/22/2012 at 2:57 pm

If we all think local first, we then begin to contribute to our communities. Simply think of our local shops first. Then the shops will meet the families’ needs. A win ~ win situation! We need our hardware stores. If we stop at the big box stores first, then we all lose our local hardware stores; a loss for the communities and environment.

By neighbors making neigborhoods on 01/23/2012 at 12:36 pm

They are absolutely terrific! How nice to be able to have such a well-stocked store with such pleasant and friendly people running it. They are extremely knowledgeable and helpful and they are a perfect example of what all local shops should be. Keep it up please.

By Joan and Mills Ripley on 01/23/2012 at 4:27 pm

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