By Michelle Frost
Despite the many changes in this fair city – widespread development, rising costs, throngs of newcomers, and less rain, there stands a pillar of stability in SE Portland that continues serving the community as it has for more than three decades:
Division Do It Best Hard- ware is a neighbor you can rely on for whatever you require as a contractor, gardener, painter or fix-it-yourself homeowner. The store offers a vast selection of products at affordable prices, with friendly customer service, just like in the old days.
Glenn Lambert worked at Coast-to-Coast Hardware at SE 36th and Division St. in 1973. The business moved to Clackamas in 1978, Lambert eventually purchased it relocating the store to its current corner at SE 37th and Division in 1986 (now know as Do-it-Best) and owned it for more than thirty years.
Born in Arizona, Lambert moved to Portland as a child and lived as an Oregonian for the rest of his life. Since Lambert’s death in 2008, his family works to carry on the tradition of his keen business sense and spirit of generosity.
His wife Kathy and their two sons, John and Paul, share duties at the store open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 am to 7 pm daily.
The retail store and office space measure 10,000 square feet; much of it ‘under construction’ these days for upgrades and improvements.
“After months of planning, and then beginning in March, we are shooting to be done (remodeling) by the end of October, or early November,” John Lambert explains.
Merchandisers and temporary workers have been on hand to dismantle and reassemble entire departments, hook-by-hook and shelf-by-shelf.
In addition to the family, 17 employees are on the payroll presently. “Some of them have been employed since the late 1990’s,” John says.
An old photo in the store shows John working as a young boy. “That was middle school,” he explains, smiling.
John and his brother Paul began as children, helping at the store before and after school, weekends and in their free time.
“He was employee of the month when he was 8,” the cashier chuckles, nodding at John.
Pictures of Glenn are mounted just past the cash register with the years of his life “October 20, 1929 – November 17, 2008” proudly on display.
The elder Lambert married in 1955 and had two daughters and a son. His first wife died in 1987. He married Kathryn Peterson in 1988 and their two sons, John and Paul, oversee the business with the help of store manager Jeff Kellis.
Former manager Ron McDonald, retired last year on October 31, after many years at the store.
News reporter Joan Harvey described Lambert as a man “who fixed homes and fixed peoples’ lives”.
“He ran a friendly neighborhood business,” Harvey writes and says he knew plumbing, electrical and carpentry problems, and was familiar with the craftsman-style houses in the area.
Lambert was also known for his generosity, helping with repairs himself, extending credit for costly repairs, letting customers work off their credit in the store or at his church, and he enjoyed mentoring young people.
Legend has it that Glen Lambert ‘won big’ at the annual Division Street Fair one year for having the fastest entry in the Belt Sander Race. Power Tool Drag Racing is a national pastime according to Google.
The store’s best-selling departments include Paint and Lawn and Garden, but every need for home repair is likely to be found here among the rooms and rooms of shelves and bins.
“Even canning goods (are available) at certain times of year,” John reports.
Online orders can be shipped to the store for pick-up, at no charge. They have added a parking lot to the east side of the building in the past year and a half. Curbside parking is available and convenient for quick stops.
John Lambert intends to continue running the family business and following in his dad’s footsteps.
“I try to take after him in regards to customer service and helping employees, and definitely being there in the community, Serving the community is important to us.”
Division Do It Best Hardware, 3734 SE Division Street, 503.235.8309, division.doitbest.com