NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — What should have been a somber day in New Bedford’s North End is instead one for celebration, as the century-old and family-owned Bourassa Hardware is no longer closing its doors and will instead remain open under new ownership.

It was a moment of serendipity that occurred only a few days ago, one that means a beloved neighborhood institution will continue on Acushnet Avenue.

“A lot of people have been coming in and saying, ‘I thought you were closing today, that it was the last day,’ and when I tell them no, the people are so happy,” said new owner Manny Andrade.

Andrade, who also owns Rivet Street Hardware in the city’s South End, is planning on maybe updating a little bit of the inside of the store, but other than that, he has no plans to change anything else about the hardware store that first opened in 1924 – including keeping the Bourassa Hardware name.

The name, the phone number – everything will be the same,” he said. “Just the face behind the counter changes.”

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media
Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

For the first time in 100 years, that face will not be a Bourassa.

Donat Bourassa first opened the store in 1924, and it passed down to his two sons before Donat’s grandchildren Gerard Bourassa and Therese Bourassa Bernier took over in 1997 after buying it from their uncle and their father, Raymond.

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media
Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

The two siblings decided late last year to retire, and with no other family members looking to enter the hardware business, they thought that was the end of the business.

That is, until Andrade came in looking to purchase Bourassa’s key-cutting machine.

“A guy told me this store was closing and that I should come by and check in to see if they had something I’d be interested in for my store. I came here looking for the key machine because I have the same one and I thought it would be better to have a spare,” he said.

“I started talking to Therese and she said she’d be sad because she would miss the people, and I feel that,” he said. “So I said, ‘Therese, do you want me to keep the store open? I’d be glad to, I’d be happy to,’ and that was all the conversation we needed.”

That was only just about five days ago, and Bernier said things happened quickly and with a lot of trust in Andrade to step in and take over, even before everything was formally wrapped.

“We didn’t meet until the last minute. We didn’t have anything in writing,” she said. “We’re still waiting on the lawyers to draft the papers, to get all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted.”

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When the Bourassa siblings decided to retire, they weren’t looking to sell the store and had made their peace with just letting it close up after a century of serving the North End neighborhood. Yet Bernier said she knew Andrade was the right person to carry on the Bourassa name and legacy in the tradition of her family.

“I trust that he will,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to sell to someone that’s never been in the hardware business. People have this romanticized idea of what it’s like, but they don’t see the work and the stress. But he came in and got to work right away; he’s not a lazy man by any means.”

Her brother agrees, calling Andrade "hard-working" in a Facebook post regarding the sale.

“We are very happy with the transition from the Bourassa family to the Andrade family and strongly encourage everyone to keep patronizing Bourassa Hardware,” Gerard Bourassa posted.

Family will continue to be a key part of Bourassa Hardware. Andrade – a native of Fogo, Cape Verde who now lives in Brockton – first purchased Rivet Street Hardware about two and a half years ago, and his son and daughter both work there with him. His children will help him now run both stores, and he said he also plans on moving to the city in the future.

“It’s a family thing,” he said. “This type of neighborhood store, I love it. I love to talk to the people, and then your work is like family.”

Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media
Tim Weisberg/Townsquare Media

Following the Bourassa siblings’ going-out-of-business sale, the shelves are a little bare right now, but Andrade said he expects to get his first delivery of new inventory on Tuesday. He has a few people coming in to help him restock after that and hopes to be fully stocked by Friday.

Then, it’s on the next 100 years of Bourassa Hardware, right?

“I hope so,” he said with a big smile. “That’s the plan.”

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