Congratulations to one of Berkeley’s most popular people, Quentin “Chuck” Moore, the manager of Berkeley Ace Hardware, who will celebrate November 23, the 40th anniversary of the day he started working there.
He’s the kind of guy who will spare no effort, no matter how hard it takes, to make sure a customer has exactly the right tool or part for the job. The rest of the staff look up to him and treat customers the same. Don’t think customers don’t like it either.
“There’s an Ace Hardware near me,” says Ken Louie, who lives and works in San Rafael. “But I’d rather drive to Berkeley to see Chuck and the gang. I know that’s going to sound like an exaggeration, but it’s true: he’s the ultimate person, and he’s absolutely sincere about it. You talk to him and he makes you feel special. If he’s talking to someone else, he makes them feel special. Finally, I understood: it is Chuck who is special!
In fact, he would rather be called Quentin, but he’s too nice to correct anyone.
He arrives at work every morning on his classic black Harley Davidson motorcycle, but at the end of the day he doesn’t come home. Instead, he walks down the street to Berkeley High School, where he volunteers as an assistant offensive line coach for the football team.
“He gets along well with the kids,” says retired Berkeley Police Captain Waymon Jenkins, who volunteers as an assistant special teams coach. “They’re just trying to find their way in life and they have issues like anger issues. But he is able to calm them down and get their respect right away. There were a lot of games where we had fights, but that kind of thing got very cold. And for that, we have Coach Moore to thank.
“I never heard him insult a child. In fact, I never heard him swear. If a player makes a mistake, they’ll say, “Go ahead and don’t do it again,” and that’s it. He doesn’t let them skip class either. He told them, “You can’t go out into the field if you don’t have the notes; but more importantly, it’s your future. It’s really important that children understand that.
And they remember the lessons he taught them long after they grew up, as the man who coached an opposing team. Quentin didn’t recognize him until he took off his COVID-19 mask and said, “Coach Moore, don’t you remember me? You’re the reason I train because of the way you trained me.
“He also has a tender heart for the elderly,” Louie says. “He likes to help them.”
But it’s not all fun and games. As a store manager in downtown Berkeley, Quentin has had to deal with his share of crises and to that end he keeps himself dutifully up to date with his first aid training, including CPR for cardiac arrests, strokes and cases of suffocation.
He’s also had his share of celebrity clients, including Nicholas Cage, who bought a toy train; Whoopi Goldberg, who asked her to be her personal assistant for the day to keep autograph seekers away (“Sometimes she’d come in disguise, but it never worked out. People always knew who she was,” said Moore); and Stephen Hawking, who arrived with an entourage of six to check out the model trains.
“He loved those trains! The recreation department was in the basement, so we took it down in the elevator. He said, ‘You have a very nice store.’ I showed him books on trains and he bought them all.
“But it’s not about selling you stuff,” Louie says. “We have several pictures of him and our two daughters, and I noticed he had one posted on the wall near his desk. You can’t see it from the client’s side, but they can see it from where they’re sitting. My daughters met him when they were in elementary school. Now they’re in college, but they still love their Uncle Chuck. Every business needs someone like Chuck, and every person needs a friend like Chuck.
Or Quentin, if you prefer. Shakespeare was right: a rose by any other name would smell just as good.
Martin Snapp can be reached at [email protected]