DI GIOVANNI SALVIETTI
Poggibonsi, early 20th Century, Dei Natale is known throughout the town for its vinegar plant: its demijohns at the ready and also takes care of hardware, guns and knives, all in Via Maestra in the heart of the commercial district of that era. We talk to the current owners of the business, father and son, Natale and Alessandro Gambassi: today’s business is still a symbol today of industriousness and the strength of those rural values handed down from generation to generation.
As the years went by and business founder Natale Dei passed on, his daughter Marta continued it with passion and a great knowledge of the trade. The big change happened in 1980 when Marta’s son Natale Gambassi fell in love with the enterprise that had been so expertly carried out by the family and handed on. Meanwhile his brother Giulio took over their father’s pig breeding business. The items for sale then were mainly small tools – and gift items too, given the strategic location in the center of Poggibonsi. Natale, however, having great plans for the future and in search of expansion, decided to move to Via Santa Caterina and subsequently to Via Botticelli. Then in 2015, the hardware store reached the apex of its greatness with the transfer to its current headquarters in Via San Gimignano.
To date, the store is managed not only by Natale but also by his son Alessandro, born in 1995; young enough but with a striking in-depth knowledge of his trade and a great handiness for manual tasks: whether in key copying as well as stock control, all effected with very good management skills. The staff is young, aged between 25 and 30, smiling, full of energy, well-versed and always ready to satisfy the client’s requests. The shop carries with it a pleasant scent of history, while at the same time manifesting a spirit of innovation and is up to the minute in everything.
Turnover is currently 35 % corporate business – amongst their clients many agritourism properties – and 65% private customers who choose Dei Natale for their domestic, hobby and professional needs. In recent years the growth sectors have definitely been do it yourself, power tools and garden machinery. There was a decline in products for restoration and antiques. Well-known and appreciated for its efficiency, the repair shop for garden machinery is a staple for the city. In this way the store offers a solid and reliable after sales service. Natale is a direct sort of chap, but at the same time empathetic, as he tells us: “A few days ago we had a loyal 93 year old customer in who came with his son just to greet me: too much time had indeed gone by since the last time we met!”
The Dei Natale store has a real social value, not just a commercial one: it’s a place where pleasant mechanisms of friendship and camaraderie are triggered. During the lockdown period, among the items that sold the most (out of a total of 35,000 in the catalogue!), were paints from the Brandini artisan paint factory in Florence. Natale is a big fan of their excellent products which have exceptional covering power. “We could see that in the lockdown period people noticed many small defects in their homes which, in the course of their daily routines, were rather difficult to spot. For this reason house and garden were the driving sales areas.” You can always find the latest products available on the market at Ferramenta Dei Natale; the dynamism and growth of the company are truly remarkable, especially in the gardening and olive growing departments. The secret here is the passion for the job and the assiduous and constant support given the most demanding client.
Finally, a personal note: Alessandro and Natale are great fans of motorcycling; for this reason the “Ferramenta Dei Natale is the main sponsor of Guido Conforti, the enduro champion from Poggibonsi both nationally and in Europe. All the employees, curiously, share a passion for this exciting sport. And their plans for the near future? “To set up an on-line shop that offers all the items available in stock”, Natale tells us. In the meantime, we strongly recommend that you visit the site and consult the blog with its always useful updated current offers.