After being in business for a quarter of a century, Cedar Center Hardware in South Euclid was robbed for the first time. Almost six weeks after the Oct. 27 robbery, owner Lenny Goldfarb and his employees are still “shaken up,” he said, but Goldfarb hasn’t let the incident negatively effect his business.
“It’s a one-time thing,” Goldfarb told the Cleveland Jewish News on Dec. 2. “The neighborhood, we think, is pretty safe.”
The heist was executed by two teen boys from South Euclid, who were wearing hooded sweatshirts. According to a report from the South Euclid Police Department, one suspect was 15 years old and the other 16 years old at the time. Both are now 16.
“The two juveniles, one of them lived down the street from our store,” Goldfarb said. “The other one lived the block over.”
One entered the store around noon, holding employees Paul Segal and Jeffrey Moss at gunpoint, and instructed them to empty the cash register. The other stood outside the hardware store, acting as a lookout.
“It turned out it was a BB gun, but when it’s pointed at you, it could have been a finger in their jacket pocket,” Goldfarb said. “It’s just as scary, because you don’t know.”
Speaking about the aftermath of the incident, Goldfarb admitted, “I get a little bit more nervous when somebody walks in the store, but am I afraid to come up here? No.”
Noting the store had recently opened for the day and the majority of the purchases were made using credit cards, Goldfarb said less than $200 was stolen. Police recovered $46 after apprehending the suspects.
According to the police report, which was obtained by the Cleveland Jewish News on Nov. 19, charges of aggravated robbery are pending through Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court.
“The cash part that they got, to me, it’s insignificant,” Goldfarb said. “Nobody got hurt. Very shaken up, very scared. The gun was pointed at both employees that were here.”
Although Goldfarb has long known both employees, he said Segal has only been working at Cedar Center Hardware for about a year. Moss has been working at the store part time since 2006. There were no customers in the store at the time of the robbery.
Although Goldfarb wasn’t there when the incident occurred – it was his day off – the Beachwood resident said, “I was here within like five minutes of getting the phone call.”
Describing the police response as “unbelievable,” Goldfarb said, “(In) less than a minute, police were on the scene. South Euclid, University Heights and Cleveland Heights police, all three responded.”
Customers were also quick to react, writing about the incident on Facebook and Nextdoor, a social networking service for neighborhoods.
“I was reading what people were writing,” Goldfarb said. “It was unbelievably nice stuff. You know, that we support the mom-and-pop businesses, the fixture of the community and that type of stuff. There (were) a ton of comments, all positive.”
Having heard stories about cash mobs, where groups of people assemble at a local business to make purchases, Goldfarb said, after seeing the online activity surrounding his store, “I wasn’t anticipating a huge crowd, but just to be sure, I had a table set up ... with cookie trays and stuff out to thank the people for shopping.”
Although people weren’t lined up down the block, waiting to get in the store, “which would have been nice,” Goldfarb said, with a laugh, it was busier than a normal day.
Despite the robbery, Goldfarb said he loves his work.
“I was always interested in fixing things, nuts and bolts or whatever, doing repair work as a kid and taking things apart, putting things back together,” he said. Noting his first job out of high school was in a hardware store’s plumbing and electrical department, he added, “I ended up working for that company for a number of years.”
He later worked for another hardware store owner, managing two stores for almost 15 years.
“And then decided, at that point in my life, I wanted something of my own,” Goldfarb said.
He opened Cedar Center Hardware in the former Cedar Center shopping center in South Euclid on July 4, 1994.
“I rented an empty storefront, bought the fixtures, bought the merchandise, hung out the shingle with our name on it,” Goldfarb said.
Exactly eight years later, the hardware store relocated to the corner of East Antisdale Road and Warrensville Center Road.
“And here it is, 25 years later, still going strong,” Goldfarb said.
Asked about the future of Cedar Center Hardware, he said, “I love what I’m doing. I’m retirement age, but I have no retirement plans in the foreseeable future ‘cause my customers aren’t just customers, they’re friends.”