Lots of retailers have taken to informing customers about new products or sales through Twitter, but the last Columbus store we expected to find on there was Zettler Hardware.

Lots of retailers have taken to informing customers about new products or sales through Twitter, but the last Columbus store we expected to find on there was Zettler Hardware.

Yes, the family-owned Downtown institution - it's been in its current Main Street storefront since 1937 and can trace its origins back to 1844 - actively tweets inventory updates, sale announcements and other Downtown news as "ZettlerHardware."

Owner Jeff Zettler admits he doesn't know much about this whole Twitter thing, but he's letting his son, Jeffery, take the reins on handling the store's web presence.

"I view it as a communications tool," said Jeffery Zettler, part of the fifth generation of Zettlers to work at the store.

"And our business is all about communicating. When people come to a retail hardware store, they usually want help and you get to interact with them personally. It's not really that different for us. I've already had a couple people send me pictures of their hardware problems through TwitPic."

The family considers Zettler Hardware to be a "convenience store for Downtown." In addition to expected supplies like nuts and bolts, the father-son duo has added everyday necessities including laundry detergent, tissues and a rack of greeting cards. Ice-cold soda pop is also available by the can at the counter.

There's a demand for those things because of the limited number of retail outlets Downtown, Jeffery Zettler said.

During warm-weather months, flats of seasonal, locally grown flowers, vegetables and herbs are ripe for the picking outside the entrance.

The Zettlers also recently began ordering a "green" line of paint and other supplies, and they support other local businesses by buying things like paint and brushes from local vendors.

The shop is divided into two main areas, with "departments" of tools and equipment clustered in different corners. Gardening supplies, in the back corner, is the biggest - including 335 different varieties of seeds, mostly vegetables.

The family's latest venture is Goodale Hardware, a new store expected to open near the end of this month on Goodale Boulevard in Grandview. It'll be a full-service hardware store, offering services such as screen and glass installation, glass cutting and key duplication, Jeffery Zettler said.

To cater to the more suburban Grandview crowd, they might also offer things like gas grills, he said.