Ciners: scrape, repair and rewire
Greg Ciner writes down an order at Holland Hardware in Hinsdale. | Tamara Bell/ Sun Times Media
On the job
Bob Ciner’s favorite task: “Basic repairs on table lamps.”
Bob’s least favorite job: “Repairing new halogen lamps, because of the way they are made. I don’t have the hands of a 10-year-old Chinese girl.”
Greg Ciner’s favorite task: “I enjoy repairing chairs, knocking them apart, scraping the old glue off and putting them back together.”
Greg’s least favorite job: “Painting metal chairs, because you have to scrape the old paint off first.”
Hardest job (per Greg): “Polishing some chandeliers. You have to take them apart and sometimes there’s a thousand parts.”
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:47AM
Holland Hardware is a familiar name in Hinsdale, but perhaps no longer sufficient to describe the business started in the 1930s.
Bob Ciner started working for the Hollands in September 1958, when it was on Washington Street by the train station. He bought the business from the family in 1981.
As hardware sales have declined over the year, Ciner and his son Greg, have redirected their line of work to include cleaning, maintenance and repairs of a wide variety of household items.
“We have no list of all we do, because it would be endless,” Ciner said.
A big part of their business, now tucked away at 46 Harrison Place, is repairing and rewiring lamps.
“All the lighting places don’t do this anymore,” Ciner said.
But several, such as Horton’s Home Lighting in La Grange, refer customers seeking lamp repairs to Holland.
The Ciners also add fixtures to items.
“We electrify things,” Ciner said.
He showed how they were attaching electrical wire along the curves of an Italian glass chandelier and had installed a socket, so the chandelier could be lit with electricity instead of candles.
“We also do a lot of furniture,” Ciner said.
A mantel they painted white for a woman who brought it in unfinished rested against one wall of the shop. A table with one of its three legs broken off lies on the counter.
They also sharpen knives and mower blades.
“We’ve got a niche,” Ciner said “It’s not glamorous work. It’s a lot of drudgery, but we’ve been doing it so long we’re used to it.”
And because of the variety, “it never gets boring.”
But Ciner is not promising he can repair anything.
Some things he can’t fix and others would be too costly because of the labor and materials necessary.
“People come in all the time with that toaster wanting us to repair the cord or replace the plug,” because newer toasters they have bought don’t toast the bread to their liking, Ciner said. “They want us to keep it going.”
Other would-be customers come in with appliances they don’t want to discard on principle.
“This isn’t just old-timers like me,” Ciner said. “It may be younger people who bemoan ‘what kind of world is this where you have to throw everything away.’”
The jobs the Ciners tackle may require knowledge or skill, or just elbow grease and time.
For example, the Ciners polish a lot of brass — lamps, candlesticks, switch plates, doorknobs. Some by hand, some with a brush attachment on a grinder.
“In the spring, we get a lot of fireplace stuff. We use an acid to get off the heavy grime,” Ciner said.
The Ciners also are getting a resurgence in requests to polish silver pieces. For a while, we weren’t seeing much silver, Ciner said.
But before Easter, customers came in with sterling silver trays, with teapots, creamers and sugar bowls.
“We see a lot of those sets.”
There is no secret to removing the tarnish and restoring the luster.
“We sell the polish we use,” Ciner said. “People don’t want to do the work, so we do it.”