Glen Cove has a wide variety of businesses. Restaurants are plentiful, the many hair salons and barbershops keep the community in style, and there are places to buy furniture to keep homes looking modern. But there’s been a decades-old running joke within the Glen Cove community that there are precious items, which are hard to find with some saying socks, and others, underwear.
On April 25, Brinkmann’s opened its doors. Brinkmann’s Hardware, a Sayville-based family hardware chain, is a 47-year-old business selling general merchandise, cookware, garden essentials, toys, clothing, marine supplies, and of course, socks and underwear. And if you need one of their services like glass cutting or screen repair, Brinkmann’s has those to offer too. Their other locations are in Blue Point, Holbrook, Miller Place and Sayville. The store in Glen Cove is its fifth location on Long Island, and its first in Nassau County.
The chain was founded by Tony Brinkmann and his wife Pat in 1976, after Tony was fired from working for his father as an electrician because of economic hardship. As an unemployed 30-year old, Tony saw the perfect opportunity to fulfill his dream, owning and operating a hardware store. Tony and Pat invested whatever financial resources they had to establish their first business. Pat used her former bookkeeping experience, and Tony used his expertise as a handyman.
When the store opened it had a rocky start. Their first store was small, and only half of it was filled with inventory because they didn't have the money to fill the other half. They divided the back half with shelving so their customers wouldn’t notice the empty space. As the store grew in popularity, the shelves dividing the store from its empty half moved further towards the back wall.
As the Brinkmann’s were growing their business, their family expanded too. Mary was born the same year the first store opened, Ben, their second child, was born in 1977 and Hank was born in 1979. Three years after opening their first store, the Brinkmann’s bought a building in Sayville and moved their store to that location, going from 2,000 to 3,300 square feet. In 1986, they owned a 6,000 square foot state-of-the-art store.
“We literally grew up in a hardware store,” Ben Brinkmann said. “When we weren’t at school, we were at the hardware store. We enjoyed being there and we enjoyed helping in any way we could from a very young age.”
The Brinkmann siblings: Mary Neimeth, Ben, and Hank, aren’t just siblings who fondly remember working with their parents, they became equal partners in the company after buying it from their parents. Hank and Ben frequently visit their stores when they’re not in the office, and Neimeth manages their Sayville headquarters with their mother.
The siblings didn’t always intend on running the family business. Ben worked as an electrician, Mary earned her master’s in business administration, and Hank owned a screen repair business.
The Brinkmann siblings bought the chain from their parents 15 years ago. While attending a True Value trade show in California 10 years ago, Ben and Hank were inspired by the many hardware stores they toured and set their sights on opening a large format hardware store. They knew they had to choose their next location wisely to achieve their goal.
“We were looking in select communities that we felt had a need and had the population that we could sell to in a big way, and Glen Cove fit that bill.” Ben said. “So, we've been looking in Glen Cove for years, waiting for an opportunity or a space that would be suitable.”
Their opportunity came in the summer of 2022 after King Kullen closed their Glen Cove location.