Ritters Hardware: Recycler Extraordinaire

It’s an institution, it’s a landmark, it’s Ritters Hardware in Mechanicsburg. But it’s

something else: it’s a green habit. For years, even before green was fashionable,

Ritters TrueValue Hardware consistently recycled; back when all recyclables had to be

laboriously separated, Ritters soldiered on, reusing 15-25 pallets per week and

recycling plastic shrink wrap, aluminum and always massive amounts of cardboard into

separate bins. Now, however, with the advent of single stream recycling, all recyclables

can be placed into the same bin, a time and labor saver. In 2012, PennWaste reported

Ritters recycling at a total of nearly 4 tons.

And recycling doesn’t stop at the bins: TrueValue reusable tote bags sell for 99

cents, and periodically to encourage reusable bag use, the store runs specials—a tote

bag give-away with an offer to discount everything that will fit into the bag.

Partners Jack Ritter and Jack Winchell clearly go out of their way to recycle:

when the store recently underwent major renovation, all fluorescent bulbs and ballasts

were recycled. So to recognize this exemplary commercial green citizenship,

Mechanicsburg Borough is awarding Ritters its 2013 Commercial Recycling Award in a

ceremony on November 19 during the Borough Council meeting, 7:30 pm, at 36 W.

Allen Street.

History-hardware fun facts include the beginning of the Ritters tradition in 1908

when Orrie Arthur Ritter built the first slender store on Main Street near the square. In

the 1940’s the store, then run by Orrie’s son William, expanded into the Acme store on

its east side and later to the Houck’s store to the west. In 1972, Winchell began working

in the business and began buying into the business in the mid 1980’s, so that today

Jack Ritter, Orrie’s grandson, and Jack Winchell run the show. Now the store boasts a

whopping 80 feet of fasteners—that’s hardware talk for nuts, bolts and screws– and the

largest metric fastener selection in the area.

But for all its vast aisles of hardware, Ritters remains a friendly, hometown store.

Jack Ritter, also the town Mayor, has been known to don his top hat and marry a

couple right in the tool aisle. Such marriages don’t happen by the socket wrenches

often, but they’re not unheard of either. Recently a Ritters branch, twice the size of the

flagship store, opened in the West Shore Plaza. No report of weddings there, although

that branch is also extremely successful and carries through with the recycling

commitment begun at the home store.

At a time when cutting corners to save time is so tempting, Ritters has been a

steady, dependable recycler. “Recycling,” says Winchell, “is a habit you get into, and

once you build that habit, the process goes pretty easily.” Ritter agrees, and pointing to

his partner says, “He’s a good guy.” Mechanicsburg agrees and, in fact, would say,

“They’re both good guys.”