The small southwestern community of Los Alamos, New Mexico, is probably best known for the government lab that sits on outskirts of town. The lab brings people from distant cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to town, but Metzger’s Hardware and Los Alamos Main Street work to give those New Mexico transplants — and longtime locals — a reason to stay.
“This town is a little different from others in that we’ve got a good many people who work at the laboratory who are out-of-towners,” explains David Jolly, general manager of Metzger’s Hardware and president of Los Alamos Main Street. “Getting people connected to the downtown is difficult.”
Metzger’s and Los Alamos Main Street are up for the challenge. The Do it Best Corp. member store just celebrated its 70th anniversary with a commemorative logo that reflects the community’s roots. Los Alamos has branded itself as the place “Where Discoveries Are Made” in honor of the town’s famous lab, and many of the Main Street organization’s programs and events come with a scientific flair. The town’s annual ScienceFest draws crowds of around 10,000 people, locals and visitors alike. The event features interactive demonstrations and science competitions, as well as music, food and kid-friendly activities.
For Jolly, it’s all about getting people to enjoy the downtown experience.
“Main Street is like the front door of any community,” he says. “If you’re living in a small town and you want a good quality of life, that starts at Main Street.” Metzger’s Hardware is located along Central Avenue, the main street in downtown Los Alamos.
As a leader in the local business community and in the Main Street organization, Jolly knows that the stakes for his work are high.
“If we’re not careful, we’re going to wind up in a place where you wake up on a Sunday morning, and your toilet’s leaking, and your Amazon Prime membership isn’t going to look too good when it takes two days to get the part to fix it,” he says. “People rely on their local businesses, but they just don’t realize how much.”
It’s not just in emergency situations where local businesses make all the difference. Metzger’s Hardware gives back to the local community by supporting the everyday things that matter to Los Alamos residents.
“We’re the ones who are supporting the local softball team, supporting the local high school,” Jolly says. “Nobody at Amazon sends a check to the local high school every year for upkeep on the football stadium.”
Together, Metzger’s Hardware and Main Street Los Alamos make their small-town community feel like home for its out-of-town residents. The work they do sustains the community now and for generations of scientists, softball players and high school students to come.