TUNKHANNOCK – Gay's opened in 1913 and the store has been at its current location – the former Old Woolen Mill -- for 69 years.
The hardware store was founded by M.C. Gay – Marble Charles Gay -- a musician who played at the 1892 World's Fair in Chicago.
"He played the trombone," said his grandson, Doug Gay. "And a damn good trombone player at that."
The story goes that all of M.C.'s clothes and money were stolen while he was at the World's Fair.
Doug said his grandfather had to hop a freight train to get back home to Tunkhannock. He became a traveling salesman – selling farming equipment all over the country.
And eventually he founded the store that became a part of the Tunkhannock community.
Doug Gay said the Gay family philosophy is based on helping people and the community.
"We've always felt giving back to the community is an important part of our business," Doug said.
Charlie Kraynack, a longtime customer, said that when he entered Gay's True Value Hardware Store with his wife, George "Papa" Gay, Doug's father, would greet them with, "Hello, Charlie. I see you brought along your beautiful daughter today." Kraynack said the people at Gay's are a lot more sincere than the greeters at the big box stores.
He said the last time he saw Papa Gay was at the annual free screening of "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Dietrich Theater less than a year before his passing in 2004. The movie ends with the entire family singing "Old Lang Syne."
"George, who was sitting directly behind me, broke into song and led us all in a sing-along to that refrain," Kraynack said.
An old basketball and baseball buddy of Doug's now living in Hudson, N.Y., wrote a letter to Doug thanking him for his help on his recent visit to Tunkhannock.
David Thaddeus Dobrosielski's car broke down and Doug loaned him his truck. Doug also tuned up his lawn mower and brought it back to him. He also helped him get his car fixed.
It was a big deal to Dobrosielski, but Doug just shrugged his shoulders and said, "We do that sort of stuff here all the time."
Carol Vogrin has been a bookkeeper at Gay's for 13 years. Her father-in-law worked at Gay's, as did her father and uncle.
Marble Gay used to drive her father-in-law, Al Vogrin, to baseball games. "He used to practice pitching with him in the back of the property," Vogrin recalled.
And then Marble Gay performed another act of kindness for Al Vogrin. "Marble showed up at my father-in-law's house one day with a cow," Carol Vogrin said. "He told him that with three little kids he needed a cow."