Stop 23: The 1949 Hardy’s & Lingle’s Department Store
Roy Hardy and his wife, Martha were owners of Hardy & Lingle’s Department Store, later Hardy’s Department Store on 7th Street. A native of Brooksville, Florida, he worked part-time during high school at a local store in Brooksville named Rogers Department Store that has local fame in its own. Roger’s daughter, Margaret Rogers Ghiotto, had a very similar story and after teaching physics at Brooksville High School, she opened the well-known Rogers Christmas House & Village in Brooksville, and similar to Hardy, she became a huge philanthropic force in Brooksville). After serving in the U.S. Army, Roy Hardy returned to retail work at another Brooksville department store, Lingles in Brooksville in 1947.
He shared that one day a salesman was visiting Lingles, and mentioned a vacant store in Dade City on 7th Street that would make a great mercantile retail store. With the help of Robert Reynolds Lingle in another ‘passing it forward’ benevolent effort, Hardy and Lingle purchased the Dade City space that had previously held two retail stores. Soon after, Hardy and his wife moved to Dade City in 1949.
With hard work and innovation, the Hardy & Lingle Store was a raving success and eventually Roy bought out his partner. For thirty-six years he operated the retail store. Sometimes known as the Clothier at 419 North 7th Street. In 1949 he opened the establishment and sold the business in 1984, upon his retirement. Along the way, he commenced a second store in nearby Zephyrhills.
Some shots of the interior of the Dade City store show the extensive collection of beautiful clothing. Not surprising with his aptitude for comradery, Hardy was elected President of the Dade City Merchant’s Association in 1953 and created an atmosphere of service and teamwork.
The entrepreneurship and the care of customers continues in the location which is named Del Carmen Mexican Store. The owners Jose and Carmen Frias tripled the size of their store since they first opened in 1997. Frias, a former produce picker, first established his store as a market with produce. Frias has worked diligently to be a part of the community. He has some extraordinary murals of Mexican scenes in the interior. He also realizes that he has a legacy to maintain, as he said in 2006, “Del Carmen Mexican Store is a reincarnation of a dry goods operated on the same spot from 1949 to 1985 by well-known businessman, Roy Hardy.”
During this tenure, Roy and Martha became known as people you could really count on. They were philanthropic care givers of Dade City, and were often the impetus of many community efforts to address needs.