Three generations serving Los Alamos since 1947
In 1947, as World War II and the Manhattan Project gave way to the Cold War, the newly formed Atomic Energy Commission decided that since Los Alamos was going to be a permanent community, it would need the trappings that go with that. In the fall of that year, the AEC invited bids from merchants willing to operate the type of businesses typical in a small community. When the bids were opened on October 24, Lee Metzger Sr. won the bid to operate an auto supply and hardware store. Metzger had experience with the Manhattan Project during the war, operating a business called Contractor’s Sales and Service at the Hanford, Washington site. After the war, Metzger had moved his business to Santa Ana, California and had begun to open stores in that area when he heard about the opportunity in Los Alamos. When his bid was successful, he sold the California stores and moved his operation to New Mexico.
On November 17, 1947, Metzger’s opened along with two other stores. The Mackey Store, a men’s clothing store, and the M-B Jewelry store. The original location was in the old Commissary Building across 20th Street from the Community Building. Times were tough that first winter. Since the store didn’t have service bays, employees found themselves changing oil and tires outdoors in the snow behind the store.
The situation improved significantly in the fall of 1948 with the completion of the Community Center located where Central Park Square is today. Metzger’s moved into a brand new space directly behind the post office on what is now Main Street, at the time an open air plaza. According to news accounts of the grand opening on October 11, 1948, “Moore’s Book & Stationary store and the Metzger’s Firestone store were laden with merchandise that promises busy days ahead.”
Over the years, Metzger’s continued to expand to serve the community. In 1951, as the Western Area was built, Metzger’s opened a location at Diamond Drive and Sandia, first as a Firestone store and Texaco gas station, later Mobil gas. At the Community Center location, as other stores closed in 1962 and 1969, Metzger’s expanded into their spaces.
Around 1950, Metzger’s opened a store in the temporary contractor’s village in White Rock. The store closed later, along with the village, but when White Rock was reestablished as a permanent community, Metzger’s returned in 1973 with a new store on Highway 4.
As business continued to grow in Los Alamos, Metzger’s relocated once again in 1979, moving into the space recently vacated by Safeway at 15th and Central. Metzger’s also joined the True Value hardware co-op that year as the company’s focus started to shift to a more complete hardware mix. As other stores continued to leave Los Alamos, Metzger’s made a commitment to customize its stores to meet the needs of the community by adding merchandise its customers asked for.
In 2002, Metzger’s changed its hardware co-op membership to Do it Best Corp. of Fort Wayne, Indiana, the second largest hardware co-op in the nation, and in 2007 completely remodeled the Central Avenue store to renew its commitment to the community. The association with Do it Best Corp. also brought Metzger’s into the internet age. Now customers could shop for over 65,000 items online through www.metzgershardware.com – the world’s largest hardware store.
With Lee, Sr.’s passing in 1982, his sons, Lee, Jr., Bob, and Tom operated the business together for nearly twenty years. In 2006, Lee bought the remaining shares of the company from his brothers’ families, giving him 100% ownership.
In 2014, Lee Metzger, Jr. retired and the business was purchased by his son Greg, the third generation of the Metzger family to own the business. As Greg continued to refine the business to serve the needs of the community, the decision was made in 2015 to exit the gasoline business and focus all of the company’s attention on hardware and general merchandise. The Mobil gas station on Diamond Drive closed, and the removal of the gas tanks and facilities in White Rock opened up space to remodel the exterior of the store with a new patio display area for lawn and garden and outdoor living merchandise, giving a whole new energy to the store.
Metzger’s has made many changes over the past 70 years. One thing that hasn’t changed is the company’s commitment to serving the Los Alamos community. As a family owned company, Metzger’s is able to respond to the unique needs of Los Alamos and White Rock, while leveraging its membership in Do it Best Corp to bring the benefits of a large scale corporation, including the same pricing advantages, advertising, and operations assistance customers expect in a large big box retailer. Using these tools, Metzger’s is able to provide the pricing, product and service availability of its much larger competitors while still providing the customer service and feeling of doing business with neighbors.
As a local business, Metzger’s success comes directly from the Los Alamos community, so Metzger’s is committed to being a good corporate citizen. Metzger’s is proud to give back to the community by supporting local organizations working to make Los Alamos and White Rock great places to live, and many groups benefit from this involvement every year. Metzger’s is also committed to supporting economic development in the area, believing that a successful community makes for a successful business. Metzger’s works with the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, and Los Alamos MainStreet in their missions to improve the local business environment.
Metzger’s knows that our customers have many choices when it comes to the products we sell. Through offering the products you want at the right price and providing an outstanding shopping experience, our goal is to be your first choice.
Metzger's 70th Anniversary Photo Gallery
About Metzger’s 70th Anniversary Logo
Metzger’s 70th anniversary logo was inspired by the mark developed by our hardware co-op, Do it Best Corp, to celebrate its anniversary in 2015. Where the center of the zero in the Do it Best logo included the earth to represent the global reach of Do it Best, Metzger’s wanted to emphasize its ties to Los Alamos County. The recently adopted “balance” emblem representing Los Alamos County’s unique blend of science and nature provided a perfect symbol of Metzger’s pride in being part of this awesome community.
- July 28, 2017 by David Jolly