GARDINER — Around midday Wednesday, a woman rushed into Harvey’s Hardware, looking for a mesh sink drain cover.

“Is it for a trailer?” longtime store manager Cyrena Pease asked. “Are you talking about these?”

Pease held one up, drawing a cheer from the customer who had been on the hunt for one everywhere.

“She’s looked everywhere, and she couldn’t find one,” Pease said. “And who’s got one? I do.”

In a roundabout way, that drain cover is part of the legacy that has been built in Gardiner by Bill Harvey, who until a year ago owned and ran Harvey’s Hardware on Maine Avenue. The store was started by his father, Earle Harvey more than 97 years ago.

“We carry things you can’t find anywhere else,” Pease said.

On Thursday, Gardiner celebrates Bill Harvey Day, established by proclamation first read in July at a City Council meeting.

“At Gardiner Main Street, we celebrate the opening of new businesses with ribbon cuttings,” Melissa Lindley, executive director of Gardiner Main Street, said. “We also want to celebrate the businesses that have been part of Gardiner for so long. They play an important role in the economic development of our downtown.”

Lindley said the city has a significant number of those businesses that have witnessed the different phases of Gardiner’s history and Harvey’s is one of them.

Mayor Patricia Hart said Gardiner’s family-owned businesses play a large role in the city.

“Our longtime businesses are the heart of our community,” Hart said. “We all have favorite stories of visiting local businesses and getting that special personal attention or simply running into neighbors and catching up in the store aisles or restaurant booths.”

At the time the proclamation was read, Harvey’s son Mark Harvey joined the City Council meeting on Zoom.

“I very much appreciate it,” Mark Harvey said. “Thank you.”

Bill Harvey moves the snow Jan. 12, 2012, that piled up in front of his Gardiner business, Harvey’s Hardware. Harvey will be honored in the city Thursday, which has been proclaimed Bill Harvey Day.  Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

Harvey, who worked in the store as a boy, bought the business in 1967 and operated it for the next 53 years. The business was sold a year ago to MCMO LLC, which opted to keep its existing name.

Pease, who was hired to work at Harvey’s nearly three decades ago, said he has been a good boss.

“We had our ups and downs, but he was lenient, he was generous, he was grouchy, and he was kind,” she said.

Harvey was also a supporter of community activities and events, donating to high school sports, Johnson Hall, supporting the local food bank and silent auctions.

Bill Harvey moves a barricade from Maine Avenue at the corner of Water Street on March 26, 2011, so that a truck can make a delivery to his store, Harvey’s Hardware. Harvey will be honored in the city Thursday, which has been proclaimed Bill Harvey Day. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

The proclamation notes that the Harvey family played a significant role in the renewal of downtown Gardiner by buying and rehabilitating buildings to lease to small businesses, prompting others to make similar investments.

Harvey is also credited for his involvement in community and civic organizations including his time with the Gardiner Rotary Club during which he served as president, and his involvement with the Highland Avenue Methodist Church. He also served on the National Bank of Gardiner’s board of directors.

“Honoring Bill and Harvey’s Hardware gives us a way to show our gratitude for their years of service to the greater Gardiner community,” Hart said.

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