1902 - 1985
Albert Frederick Mutti (1876-1958) moved with his new wife, Eva, in 1902 to Hopkins, a town founded in northern Nodaway County just thirty years earlier. At the time, Hopkins was a thriving farming community of around 900 people that boasted multiple businesses and a railroad line. Mutti pursued many business opportunities over the years. His first was Mutti & Brown (later Mutti Hardware), which sold furniture, appliances, farm implements and seeds. In the following decades, Mutti spun off two additional businesses – the Mutti Motor Company (Ford) and Mutti Truck and Tractor (International Harvester). By the 1920s, multiple businesses served Hopkin’s population, including three hardware stores, two banks, two lumber yards, a clothing and dry goods store, three groceries, two pharmacies, a livery stable, a bakery, a hotel, a movie theater, and multiple restaurants among others. These businesses also catered to the farm families in surrounding areas who came into town on Saturdays to make their purchases.
Although the Great Depression forced many of these establishments to close, a few like Mutti Hardware, which was now managed by Mutti’s youngest son, George, operated as late as the 1980s. Hopkins’ retail establishments experienced a decline in the last decades of the 20th century when Walmart and other retail chains opened in nearby Maryville. Mutti Hardware, the last remaining Hopkins’ based family business, permanently closed in 1993. In 2021, the population of Hopkins has declined to under 700 people and few retail businesses remain.
This sign is an advertising piece for Keen Kutter, a trademark brand for the St. Louis based Simmons Hardware Company that specialized in axes, pocket knives, and other cutting implements. The company and the brand changed hands multiple times in the twentieth century but it always served as wholesale distributors of hardware goods to locally owned stores such as Mutti Hardware. Keen Kutter tools — like many of the stores that sold them — are now relics of the past and are considered collectable items.
Categories: Business & Economy
Date: 1902 - 1985
Subject: Hardware stores; Small towns
Contributing Institution: Private