Don Ruggles is not sure why people started calling him “Tip,” but the name stuck at a young age. In seventh grade, Tip started working after school at Somers Hardware in Montpelier. His father, Donald H. Ruggles, bought the beloved old-fashioned shop in the 1970s; the store dated back to the early 1900s. By tenth grade, Tip was leaving school early to go work at the hardware store with his dad. He liked learning new things and helping customers find what they needed. Tip eventually took over Somers from his father and worked with a variety of family members.
Aubuchon Hardware moved next door to Somers on Main Street in 1982. The community rallied around Somers, but in 2009, Tip closed the business due to a lack of suppliers. Aubuchon expanded into Somers’ space; you can see an old sign for Somers Hardware in its paint department. Tip immediately began working at Aubuchon. He has endless knowledge about where everything is and what parts are right for the job, and customers often ask for him by name.
Eva paid Tip a visit at Aubuchon on a snowy Saturday and watched him in action. She also met Almond and Joy, the store cats that Tip adores. At age 62, Tip has been working in hardware stores for almost fifty years now. He feels a change is in the air, so get your tips from Tip while you still can.
Seven Days senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger launched her award-winning "Stuck in Vermont" web video series in 2007. Her videos have been viewed by millions. She appears every other Friday on WCAX at 6:30pm.