1923- John J. (Jack) McNamara and his partner Fred Bedesen purchased Kocher Hardware and formed Bedesen and McNamara Hardware. C.E. Kocher’s business was in a decline because of a boycott by the farmers due to his involvement in forming the Merced Irrigation District. Selling farm hardware and farm implements, they were the first Ford Tractor dealer in Merced County. Dynamite and mining tools were sold for the remaining gold mines in the Merced Falls/Hornitos area.
1931- Brownie Joerg was hired to establish a gift department which became highly respected and well known throughout the central valley. Her creative window displays were and expectation. Brownie retired in 1968.
1946- Upon the death of his partner Fred Bedesen in 1946, Jack McNamara purchased the Bedesen interest from his estate and formed McNamara Hardware. In the same year the third floor of McNamara Hardware was converted into a year round Toy Department managed by Jack McNamara’s sister, Grace Garibaldi.
1952- Jack McNamara purchased the telephone building adjacent to the hardware store and moved the toy department to the main floor.
1956-1958- Tom and Steve McNamara returned from military service to join in the family business.
1963- Jack McNamara retired after 40 dynamic and successful years.
1964- The back room and storage area on 18th St. was converted into a Sporting Good Department, expanding Ski Shop on the mezzanine in 1966. Bill Avilez, a faithful employee since the 1930’s managed Sporting Goods.
1968- The Ski Bus Trips to Dodge Ridge began and have continued for thirty years with second generation kids of Ski Bus alumni riding today.
1975-1978- The Toy Dept. was discontinued and McNamara Sports filled that space expanding to 4,500 sq. ft. Jane Brown was hired in 1978 as a bookkeeper and is with us today as Office Manager.
1978-1987- McNamara Sports Inc. was formed as Tom and Steve divided the business. The Hardware Dept. was discontinued and by 1986 the business included a restaurant, ice cream parlor, art gallery, gourmet food, house wares and gifts as well as sporting goods.
1987- On October 17 a fire destroyed the entire building along with a considerable amount of memorabilia and history.
1988- McNamara Sports relocated on the corner of Olive and G St, leasing 4,000 sq. ft. in Payless Plaza. Dan McNamara, a recent graduate of Fresno State, returned to Merced to help Steve McNamara reestablish McNamara Sports. Tom and Patty McNamara reopened McNamara Gifts in the spring on 1988 on North G St which they closed in 1991 to seek new careers.
1991-1992-The downtown site was redeveloped into McNamara Plaza, a multi retail complex. Clarice McNamara opened Khakis, a men’s and women’s clothing store in McNamara Plaza and in 1994 opened a second Khakis in Sacramento
1994- McNamara Sports expanded its existing location which afforded the room to enter the screen printing and embroidery business.
1998- Dan McNamara is general manager of McNamara Sports and a partner in the business. Steve McNamara can be seen on occasion in McNamara Sports looking busy.
The McNamara family is now on its third generation of retailing, a rare breed in the new age of chain stores and mass merchants.