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Meet the New Owners of the Del Ray Hardware Store, Now Dog-Friendly and Expanded

Jay and Edea Portlance are Rescuing Mom and Pop Tradition by Carrying on the Neighborhood Business

Man and woman standing in front of Del Ray Hardware store.
Jay and Edea Portlance are the new owners of the Del Ray Hardware Store in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo: Del Ray Hardware)

ALEXANDRIA VA – Just a few days before Christmas, on Dec. 22, 2023, the Del Ray Hardware Store, 2003B Mount Vernon Avenue, welcomed its new owners, Jay and Edea Portlance. 

The store’s previous owner, Chris Harvey, began the process of retiring back in October, and there were a few options for the hardware store. It was either passing the baton or selling the location which might get turned into another business. 

When real estate broker Jay Portlance heard about this, he immediately knew what he had to do. 

“It’s such prime real estate for a restaurant or some other type of establishment,” he told Zebra Press referring to the store location, “I was adamant that we needed a hardware store in Del Ray and so my wife suggested we buy it. From there it all happened very quickly. I started talking to the owner and I think the whole process was five weeks.”

Man and woman standing in front of Del Ray Hardware store.
The key was theirs in December and on the 22nd, they flipped the OPEN for business sign on the front door at Del Ray Hardware. (Photo: Del Ray Hardware)

Portlance who renovates properties as part of his real estate ventures, was already a regular customer at the shop, and he had an emotional connection to it. The thought of losing this place did not sit comfortably with him. 

“If I don’t grab this somebody else someone is going to, I thought.”

Man standing behind counter in hardware store
Jay Portlance behind the counter of his new Mom and Pop adventure, the Del Ray Hardware store, in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo: Eliza North)

When asked if he knew much about running a hardware store, he said, “I remodel my own houses, so it’s just stuff I’ve learned over time but I’m a real estate broker. I’m just now starting to get used to finding my way around the store. I’ve also had great staff helping me in the last few weeks.”

The transition, says Portlance, was seamless. Lawyers took care of the paperwork making sure everything was dotted and signed, and he worked closely with Chris Harvey to learn what he could about the business itself. 

“I tried to make this transition as stress-free and as profitable for him, and he was trying to make it as smooth as possible for me also. It was a very easy process especially since at the heart of this is the intention to continue the legacy of the store.”

Four people in the Del Ray Hardware store--new owners and old.
Chris Harvey and the Portlance family pose together in the Del Ray Hardware store entrance. (Photo: Del Ray Hardware)

Though Portlance has begun this new venture to preserve the tradition and legacy of the hardware store, he does come aboard with a new vision. He and his wife Edea. who will be working on the social media piece of the business, are dog and cat rescuers so it is important for them to merge their love of animals with the store. Because of this, dogs will be welcome for customers who wish to bring their furry friends along.

“We can’t stop rescuing dogs and cats,” said the new owner,“ and I know Del Ray is very dog-centric, so it only makes sense.” 

The interior of the establishment is going through some changes also. “We added almost 450 square feet by knocking down a couple of walls that were unnecessary. An office that was taking up space has been taken down, we’ve opened it all up. We also added more fixtures and displays, there’s a lot more space here now.” 

But the changes to the store don’t end there. In the coming months as Jay settles in, he plans to create a garden center at the back of the store where he can sell a variety of plants including edible plants and herbs which he and his wife often purchase from the Del Ray Farmers Market. 

“They always sell so fast at the market,” he said, “there is a need for it in the community, and having the garden will create a more welcoming environment. Plants are also a huge part of renovating a living space, so I do want to implement that in the coming months.” His wife Edea, however, thinks perhaps this might be a ruse for Jay to get his hands on more plants. 

“I usually grow my own plants at home, he said, “rosemary, basil, things like that, and my wife thinks this is just an excuse to get ahold of more plants”

It is clear to see that the Del Ray Hardware store could not be in safer hands, and will continue to flourish and serve the community for many more years to come thanks to the Portlances who are determined to preserve its legacy. An endearing story of continuity and yet another example of the connectivity and spirit of Del Ray. 

Eliza North

Eliza North is a British/American writer. She is currently a freelance reporter at Zebra Press. Eliza studied Social Sciences at Kensington and Chelsea College, and went on to earn her Bachelors in Psychology at the University of Kent in Canterbury England. She recently graduated from The University of Cambridge, earning her Masters degree in Creative Writing.

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One Comment

  1. FWIW – Chris and his staff always had dog treats. It’s always been dog friendly.

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