When brothers James and Clay Emigh arrived in Sacramento in 1908 and set up shop on J Street, they did more than create a storefront — they created a legacy that would still stand strong 108 years later.
Moving to Sacramento from Suisun City, the Emigh brothers began to sell hardware through their store, Emigh Hardware. The brothers took every opportunity they could to grow the business and in the 1930s retired the business into the hands of James’ three sons — Albert, James Jr. and Colby — who made the decision to relocate the business where the Sacramento Convention Center now sits.
By the early 1950s, another move would take place — to “the country” at the newly-developed Country Club Center at El Camino and Watt Avenue, across the street from where the establishment now stands today. Back then, their only neighbor was a goat farm.
While the move to the Country Club Center location proved to be a great success, one issue did arise. Many people had no clue how to pronounce “Emigh.” So in the 1960s the company introduced a cartoon character depicting a pigtailed girl in overalls saying “Call Me Amy.” Little Amy is a composite drawing of Colby and Jesma Emigh’s daughters, Carol and Mary, and is still a familiar feature in Emigh Hardware advertisements today.
Since that time, Emigh Hardware has grown its earnest reputation for selling quality products, employing down-to-earth people and keeping it’s “old-fashion” feel. People get that feeling, because as Rich Lawrence, the president of Emigh Hardware, contributes, “Our store is staffed with over 75 knowledgeable employees, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years.”
Shoppers travel from miles away and pass numerous chain hardware stores along their drive. Lawrence attributes this strong sense of loyalty is because “our customers are treated to extras they just can’t get elsewhere.” He further explains at Emigh Hardware “they provide service that starts with a smile and doesn’t end until you find what you want and know how to use it.”
For Emigh Hardware, the community comes first, from excellent customer service inside the store to helping area youths at the Aldar Academy and the River Oak Center. Some of Emigh’s community commitments also include hosting blood drives with Blood Source, installing rooftop solar panels as a commitment to environmental stewardship, fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network, and helping with Habitat for Humanity.
Over the past 100+ years, the location may have changed, but the attitude has never wavered. Emigh Hardware has grown its respect amongst the community and a strong, ever-growing, loyal customer base. In this day and age of high tech, with computers answering phones and taking on-line orders, stepping into Emigh’s is a refreshing step into the past — a time when people put people first. That’s because Emigh’s is “Where service has been a tradition since 1908.”