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Jun 26, 2024

Coligny Hardware: A Hilton Head Institution

Cheryl Ricer

Photography By

M.Kat
If someone is working on a big project, they’ll likely cross the bridge. But for smaller projects, Coligny Hardware is still your go-to. They have a small plumbing section, a small electrical section, a small gardening section. They still have all the things the former location stocked, just in smaller quantities. There is a home section that includes kitchen items and home décor. 

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While some might be bigger and flashier, there is likely no more iconic hardware store for miles around than Coligny Hardware, a true Hilton Head institution. There’s hardly a local or a vacationer who hasn’t visited the store at least once, and in most cases several times, whether they’re buying something or not. 

“We have a good crowd in here all the time,” said Beth Castelli, who owns the store with her husband Jeff. “Everybody is so happy. It is just the best thing in the world to come into work every day.”

Beth Castelli with Coligny Hardware’s official greeter, Charlie the Great Pyrenees. 

It’s that attitude that keep folks coming back year after year, trip after trip. Oh, and the big white dog … more on that later.

As the second oldest retail business on the island (only Piggly Wiggly is older), the original store was a Western Auto, which the Malphrus family opened in 1969. In 1982, Charles Castelli bought the store and renamed it Coligny Hardware. 

“When my father-in-law had the store, he was an older gentleman, and of course, times were a bit different,” Beth said. “There were no big name, big box stores around anywhere close where people could go for building supplies, so his approach to business was strictly man-oriented, a nuts-and-bolts sort of inventory.”

Charles owned and operated Coligny Hardware for 20 years before he decided to retire and sell the business. In 2002, Jeff and Beth decided to buy it. Since neither of them had been involved with the hardware store previously, it was a sentimental decision that turned out to be a great business decision. 

“When we bought the store, I started adding some items that might appeal to women, too,” Beth said. She began to carry gift items, home and lifestyle items, and colorful beach-y things.

Coligny Hardware has beach chairs, toys, and souvenirs, as well as beach carts, wagons, coolers, and rafts – which they inflate for you at the store. 

“Women are the ones who typically pick out the beach chairs and such, so I added lots of color and a variety that was missing before,” she said. “I wanted to make the store fun, make everybody feel welcome, and create a great environment.” 

In 2017, Coligny Hardware underwent another change – this time a change of location to 3 Lagoon Road, where the The Goldsmith Shop was located for 36 years. The new location is a bit smaller than the previous one, so the Castellis had to adjust their inventory. They took into consideration that the demand for hardware, at least from a mom-and-pop hardware store like theirs, had changed, mainly due to more competition. 

If someone is working on a big project, they’ll likely cross the bridge. But for smaller projects, Coligny Hardware is still your go-to. They have a small plumbing section, a small electrical section, a small gardening section. They still have all the things the former location stocked, just in smaller quantities. There is a home section that includes kitchen items and home décor. 

They also have all the beach chairs, toys, and souvenirs, as well as beach carts, wagons, coolers, and rafts – which they inflate for you at the store. Their beach towel section is full of colorful and high-quality towels. 

There is something for everyone, even your furry friends … which brings us back to the famous white dogs.

Christmas ornaments to remind you of a beach vacation on Hilton Head Island are on display in the back of the store. 

When the Castellis bought the store, they had Jake, a white Golden Retriever that they purchased from Holland.

“Jake was our little Dutch boy – just a love,” Beth said. “At seven-and-a half years old, he was diagnosed with cancer, which came as a total surprise. So many of the American Goldens were being diagnosed with cancer, so we thought that a European dog would be less likely to get cancer because they have government regulations on breeding. But for four years, he battled, going through chemotherapy, everything.”

To help pay Jake’s veterinarian bills, Castelli started the White Dog Trading Company. She created T-shirts with Jake’s picture on it. Once Jake passed away (on June 28, 2014), she decided to pay forward the kindness of her patrons by continuing to sell the White Dog Trading Company designs in her store and donating 20% of every sale of the White Dog merchandise to a charity whose mission is to research the causes of canine cancer. 

“The charity is the Morris Animal Foundation, and Betty White was their spokesperson,” Beth said. “They’re wonderful. They’re not only researching the causes of cancer in dogs, but they’re also looking for answers to what dog owners can do differently to prevent cancer from striking their fur babies.” 

After mourning Jake, the Castellis adopted a nine-month-old named Maverick, a Great Pyrenees that became Beth’s best friend and store mascot. In 2022, Maverick, too, lost his battle with cancer. Then, Hilton Head locals and visitors alike mourned for Maverick at a celebration of his life. Remembered as a “lot of people’s best friend,” Beth said Maverick’s spirit still lives at Coligny Hardware.

And just when she thought she’d never love another white dog, Jeff brought home a puppy on Valentine’s Day 2023. Charles Henry Valentine, or Charlie, as the new Coligny Hardware “PR guy” is called. To make it even more special, Charlie is Maverick’s nephew. 

Coligny Hardware’s cheery exterior on Lagoon Road across from Coligny Plaza. 

“Charlie is just the funniest little thing,” Beth said. “He just makes my heart melt. He’s a sweet, sweet soul and having him is a really good thing. I’m so thankful.”

Along with the white dogs, Beth loves being a part of the Coligny Beach community and says that Coligny Hardware is like a vacation every day because everyone is so happy and having so much fun.

“I see people with kids that I first met when the kids were in diapers, and now they’re graduating from high school,” Beth said. “It’s the most wonderful thing. … I feel like I’m on holiday every day. I have a lot of faith in God, and I believe things work as they are supposed to. Coligny Hardware is the best job a person could ever have because people love to visit here. I’m so blessed.”

To visit the Castellis and love on Charlie, visit Coligny Hardware at 3 Lagoon Road.  

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