Saying good-by to the melancholy harness and saddle maker, they raced to the hardware store. Sure enough, there was a horseless carriage on display there. They inspected it from every angle, and the curly-haired hardware-store man let them sit in it for a while. He was very obliging. All four of them chose it, and while they were in the store they looked at skates and bicycles. “I could use a new sled,” said Winona. So they looked at sleds too. (Quote from Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace)
On their Christmas shopping trip in Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, the girls stop in the hardware store to see the new horseless carriage. Maud doesn’t name the hardware store they visit, but there are two possibilities, Lulsdorff & Son and J.A. Lewis & Son.
Lulsdorff & Son Hardware store was located at 115 South Front Street. Gerhard Lulsdorff, a German immigrant, established his hardware store in 1863. He developed his business from a small tin shop into one of the best hardware stores in the city. The Lulsdorff family were friends with the Hart’s, however Lewis & Son was the first hardware store to sell the “horseless carriage.”
J.A. Lewis & Son Hardware Store was located at 501 South Front Street. The hardware store was established in 1893 by John A. Lewis and his son, G.A. Lewis selling everything in shelf and heavy hardware, stoves, bicycles and sporting goods. G.A. Lewis became one of the first automobile dealers in Mankato in 1902, selling a one cylinder Oldsmobile to George M. Palmer.
As Maud did with other characters and places, she could have used a composite of both stores for the hardware store. But since J.A. Lewis & Son carried the first horseless carriage we can be sure the girls saw it there. (from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley by Julie Schrader)