Swift Hardware Celebrates 155 Years Serving The Copper Country

Swift Hardware building

Swift Hardware in Houghton has been an essential part of the Upper Peninsula for 155 years. From its origins in Ishpeming to its current location on Sheldon Avenue in Houghton, Swift Hardware has not only adjusted to the times but also stayed deeply connected to its community.

Established in 1869 by then-Michigan Senator William Swift, Swift Hardware initially began in Ishpeming before moving to Houghton to better serve the growing copper mining industry. Over time, the store transitioned from supporting mining and lumbering needs to becoming a full-service hardware store for households and contractors.

The store’s history reflects the resilience of the Swift family. From its founding in 1869 to all the recent changes in 2024, Swift Hardware has faced challenges like economic shifts, the closing of the mines, COVID-19, and most recently, the tearing down of a 40-year-old parking deck directly behind the existing store. Despite these challenges, the store has remained committed to quality and great customer service.

Marilyn Swift, fourth-generation Swift and the current owner, takes pride in the store’s journey. “It’s a busy life that I have; there is always so much to do, but I like it that way,” she said. As likely the last family member to run the store, Marilyn carries on the legacy with passion, embodying values passed down through generations.

In the store, reminders of its heritage abound. Marilyn works in her father’s former office, surrounded by family mementos. A golden Estwing hammer, a cash register that is over 100 years old, a plaque honoring the store turning 100 years old from the Michigan Retail Hardware Association, and her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father’s portraits adorn the walls.

Swift Hardware’s success stems from its strong community ties. Marilyn knows most customers by name, fostering a further sense of belonging. The store’s staff is invaluable; they provide expert assistance, maintaining the tradition of exceptional customer service.

Alongside service, Swift Hardware prioritizes locally made products, showcasing the talent of different Copper Country residents. From grill scrapers and Birdseye maple kitchen tools to locally handmade soaps, the store celebrates local craftsmanship, strengthening its bond and ties with the community.

As Swift Hardware evolves, its commitment to serving the Copper Country remains steadfast. With a legacy of excellence and community support, Swift Hardware shines as a symbol of resilience in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“How lucky am I to be doing the same thing that my grandfather did, that my dad did, and now it is my turn. It’s a true blessing!”