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Ernie’s Lock Company brick-and-mortar store, at 4500 Queensbury Road in Riverdale Park, has closed, and the company has transitioned to offering mobile services.
Photo credit: Jacob Hunting

A new year is often marked by a dramatic change, and this proved true for a Riverdale Park fixture — Ernie’s Lock Company. At the end of 2023, owner Eric Peratino announced the closure of the 4500 Queensbury Road retail store on the Ernie’s Lock Facebook page, with the company transitioning to a mobile-only business model. 

Peratino is the fourth owner of Ernie’s Lock, which has changed ownership several times since its 1960 opening. The company is named after Ernest Boswell, who founded the company with his wife, Elsa. Peratino started working for the company under Robert Smith, the prior owner; after Smith’s death nine years ago, Peratino bought the company from Smith’s estate.

Although the retail storefront is closing, the business will continue to serve both commercial and residential customers through a mobile model. Now, when someone needs the service of a locksmith, Peratino, or a contractor of his, will come out in a clearly labeled red van to address the need.

“Many people in the area will be very disappointed,” Ernie’s Facebook post reads. “I hope they understand that this decision was a difficult one.” According to the announcement, the retail storefront has suffered a significant drop in walk-in business since 2020. In a phone interview, Peratino said that although 2019 was his business’ best year in 20 years, people’s shopping habits changed during the pandemic. He added that congestion in the area has gotten worse due to the construction of the Purple Line.

Ernie’s provided a variety of locksmith services — everything from copying keys and installing new lock systems to resolving lockouts and selling safes and vaults. Although, according to Peratino, travel costs of the mobile model preclude him from copying individual keys, he still offers his other services. Peratino said that rekeying buildings is his most frequent service call.

For resolving lockouts, Peratino said the technique varies depending on the situation; a locksmith has multiple tools to pick a lock. Many newer locks are pick-resistant — and need to be drilled out. “There’s drilling, and then there’s drilling,” Peratino said, noting that he can drill out a lock without destroying it, and simply replace the cylinders to make the lock functional again.

Peratino, who was fixing a lock in his backyard as we spoke, said he is very happy with the new mobile model. Although he misses seeing his regular customers come to the store, he is enjoying doing more of the work himself and interacting with those same customers more often. Peratino said he has no plans to reopen a physical store, and has found a buyer for the retail location.


Visit Ernie’s at or call 301.273.1610 for more information. Normal business hours are Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.