For those who may not understand this local communities fierce support of Hardesters Vs the Dollar General.


From the time the Corner Store first opened its doors they helped the community. They provided credit to the locals so they could have what they needed. In fact there were times when things were provided without compensation to those in dire need. For 73 years they have provided many jobs for beginners, experienced and those retired looking for a little extra. They have always eagerly returned to the community a percentage of their receipts through unbending support for every fundraiser and charity that approached them. The Store responded to the needs of those who were victims of the Valley Fire just as they always do. The Store brought to Middletown and the area a much needed service and the Store still thrives to this day 73 years later thanks to the mutual respect of all involved. I have had the pleasure of living through the development of the Corner Store to its eventually becoming Hardester’s Markets and it all started in Middletown 73 years ago this month of April 2016.



Corner Store History

The business that carried Middletown to today





The Corner Store, as we, today know it, is a far cry from the original setup.  Step by step it has grown until today it is the largest store in Lake county whose annual volume of business far exceeds any other like business in the county; in fact, its volume is only exceeded by possibly one or two of our huge resorts.


In April of 1943 the Herrick Co business was bought.  In the fall of 1943 the competitive Rood grocery store business was bought, located in the IOOF building.


This business was closed out and a lease taken on the building.  In the spring of 1944 this was opened as a separate grocery store, arches cut through to the Herrick building and the original store converted strictly to a hardware and appliance business.                      


In 1945 the partners purchased the building between the IOQF building and the post office but did not make use of it until 1952 when it was completely remodeled to become the clothing store.  In 1949 the Herrick building was purchased and the upstairs changed from  a

lodge hall to a modern clothing

department.  This was operated here until 1952 and the move downstairs to the new, present location.


In 1946 a walk-in refrigerator was built back of the store and in 1952 a huge warehouse was constructed on their property back of the clothing store.


Several years ago appliances were moved from the hardware store to the section of the IOOF building which forms the entrance to the upstairs hall.


At the present time they are engaged in moving the office from the rear of the hardware store to the upstairs where modern  offices  are being installed.


In commenting on their growth, the boys pay tribute to Frank Piner of the Bank of America at Calistoga.  Going into business with little capital and needing stock to sell to customers, he has stood steadfast back of them in lending sound advice and financial aid whenever it was needed.


A Statement of Community

Faith By the Owners


Ten years ago when starting in business we felt that a business with  complete lines of hardware, groceries and dry goods had a place, and that a business with good products at fair prices could succeed.


You—our customers—have proved we were right.


We of the Corner Store take this opportunity to thank you, the people of our community, for making   it possible to have a tenth anniversary in our business.


It is only by your loyalty and patronage that we have had any small measure of success in our business.

We hope that we may continue to warrant the faith and trust you have placed in us and that we will be able to give you good nationally branded merchandise of high quality at fair prices, with all the services you have a right to expect, for many years to come.


Once again we thank you our customers for being our customers.

John Irwin                       Reed Hardester




The Corner Store barbecue – July 1953


Back row: Reed Hardester, Bob Knowles, Mr. Martin, John Irwin, Charlotte Fuller, Hap Brookins, Sis Huston, Eva McDonald, Ruth McDonald


Middle row: Marion Hardester, Linda Brookins, Martin’s wife, Margaret Springston, Cecil Fuller, Rod Huston, Betty Irwin


Front row: Harry McDonald, Rex McDonald, Sylvia Irwin, Mary Knowles & Rusty



John Irwin – Reed Hardester






June 24, 1966






The past 23 years as a partner in The Corner Store with Reed Hardester have passed quickly and have been very rewarding. The only regrets that I have in retiring, is that I will miss the daily contact I have had with the whole community.


On selling out to Reed and Wally, I feel that Middletown will continue to have what I think is the best store in Lake Co. and that its customers will always be fairly treated by getting the best in merchandise and service.             


I want to thank the people of Middletown and Cobb Mt. for all that they have done for me in being my customers all the years; everything I have has been made possible by the support given to me.


Best wishes and lots of luck to Reed and Wally, and thanks again to the people of the area for the breaks they have given me while I have been in business.


John Irwin Sr.






A Tribute To America


The story of the Corner Store

Middletown's largest local Industry-

is a story we can only expect  In America; and can only find in this land, of all the countries we know on earth. 


It is a story that should be an inspiration to all our young Americans now fast approaching manhood and at a point where their future course of action must soon be decided.


It bears  witness once more that America is the kind of opportunity—a place where a man or woman can find the chance awaiting him to carve out his or her own niche in a land steeped with tradition - a  fertile ground for the person with the ambition and courage to move ahead in this life.


To us, this is the greatest lesson in the success of the Corner Store - a lesson and an added tribute to America and the intrepid people who have  built—and are continuing to build this nation. 


The history and success of the Corner Store is but the history and success of a million businesses and industries in the United States; and one duplicated over and over in lesser or greater degree by many right here in our own community.   They all are shinning examples of American ambition and the opportunity that exists in America.  In paying tribute to the Corner Store this week we also pay like tribute to the countless more who have seen this opportunity and had the willingness and the fortitude to carry on through adversity and success to also reach their ultimate goal.


The success of these boys in their Corner Store is the story of all America -- it is the result of our heritage and our ability to grab hold and ride'er to the ultimate goal or conclusion.


We salute you Corner Store—and all the rest of you who have had the courage and energy to reach your goal of success.


Note:  Ed RUNYON was Editor-Publisher of the Middletown Times Star all during the birth and growth of the CORNER STORE



27 years later, the Corner Store is only in the memory of those who remember when.







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