109 Broadway, Fairfax
(415) 453-4410; www.fairfaxlumber.com
What do they offer?
Fairfax Lumber & Hardware is a lumber yard, a hardware store and a garden center. Knowledgeable and helpful employee owners offer sound advice and exceptional customer service.
The store carries a full range of hardware items for building, plumbing and electrical projects: tools, plywood and panels, lumber, paint, housewares; picnic tables and fire pits, barbeques and camping supplies; and, in the nursery, seeds, starters, flowers, pots and arbors.
Emphasis is placed on smarter alternatives, sustainable options, and healthier choices. You will find building materials, paint and adhesives, cleaning, electrical, plumbing, pest management and nursery items which take impact on the environment into consideration.
In other words, they are a very green business.
Who are they?
Fairfax Lumber and Hardware is one-hundred percent employee-owned. August “Augie” Venezia, who was interviewed for this article, grew up in Marinwood and is one of the employee owners in management.
While attending Terra Linda High, he was influenced by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, often credited for launching the modern environmental movement.
He worked part-time at the Terra Linda location (which was the only other store in Marin) and laughs at the term “yard dog” in reference to his time in the lumber yard. “I did get a handful of splinters under the skin,” he acknowledged.
A science major at UC Santa Barbara, his goal of dental school was not in the cards, so Venezia returned full-time, working in all the departments. In 1978, when that location closed, he came to Fairfax.
Venezia is extremely knowledgeable about the green building movement. “My goal is to give customers information to let them make better decisions and to understand that green options don’t necessarily cost more. Many new products are less toxic, better quality and do the same job as the old products. This applies to coatings, paints, stains, adhesives, pest control, electrical and plumbing, and also to building materials, including lumber.”
How long have they been there?
Fairfax Lumber and Hardware opened in 1912. Today, they are Marin’s leading expert and provider of nature-friendly products for building and home improvement needs.
Why are they business of the week?
“When you deal with us,” said Venezia, “you are dealing with the owner.”
What sets them apart from other stores is the fact that in 2004 they developed the Fairfax Green program to conserve natural resources, increase energy efficiency, improve indoor air quality and reduce toxins in our environment. They seek out and offer products to implement green construction.
Customers are shown renewable and biodegradable materials and products. Employee owners discuss sustainable and healthful choices to build or remodel a more comfortable, healthful, durable and nature-friendly home that costs less to maintain and creates less waste and pollution.
“Fairfax Green has breathed life into a hundred-year-old company. One of the differences between us and the larger stores is that we can make immediate decisions and turn on a dime,” said Venezia.
They provided building materials for the Passive House project in Point Reyes Station. Essentially, a passive house is a totally insulated and airtight “box,” so that only 540 watts of energy is needed to keep it warm in winter - that’s the energy of a small hair dryer at half speed.
Employee owners Marsha and Charlie at the lumber counter always have creative solutions for your projects. The guys in the yard, including Ronnie and Patrick, are friendly and hard-working.
Cashiers like Lexi often greet customers by name. She's been there three years and her sister Mary Ellen works in the nursery. Born and raised in Fairfax, they live just up the street.
“The customers and co-workers are fantastic,” she said. "I used to walk by in the morning and chat with a guy who worked in the store. I always said, ‘When I retire I will wind up here’ and now I have. This is a great place to be.” Great customer service even at check-out. What a concept.
If anyone is concerned that prices might be a bit higher at Fairfax Lumber and Hardware, as compared to some of the larger stores, Venezia encourages them to consider the health of their families and pets as well as the impact on the environment.
It's easy being green when you shop at Fairfax Lumber and Hardware.