Saturday, April 24, 2010

Aisle Three for Submarine Rescue Gear

The place smells like forty weight motor oil and fertilizer stored in a vulcanized rubber bladder. The carpet might have been green once. Inventory is no doubt stored on a diesel powered PC (upgrade from the wood-burning laptop they used to use) and you get the sense that if you had the know how, you could walk up and down the aisles, pick up parts and assemble a 747.

That would be my local hardware store. They're wedged between two big boxes, a blue one about eight miles up the road, an orange one a more menacing two miles away. Yet, they're still here, seemingly doing well. You got to love a place where pilferage control consists of putting the Easter lily plants on the front porch of the store at night.

The laws of economies of scale dictate that things are more expensive there. That's ok. In the end it all works out in that when you go in looking for a bulb for a router ($14.95 replacement cost) somebody behind the counter will sell you an automobile turn signal lamp for a pre-1970 Chevy with a bayonet base that fits the router as well. Total: $1.49 for two bulbs please.

I once walked in looking for a garden tool. I knew it existed, because I had seen one in a Vermeer painting.

They had it.

Typically, on a Saturday morning, somebody will walk in and ask for a 3/8" metric adaptable hex mounted flush cover offset gasket protected left wound quarter inch drive sub-assembly pre-stressed, torque-limited fastening bolster shortened to fit the aftermarket supplied bracket for my 1989 Ford F-150.

Typical reaction: Clerk walks down aisle four, about 2/3rd's of the way, reaches into a cardboard box on the top shelf and hands you exactly what you need.

You can do that at a big box, but my suspicion is they'd have to remove it from the building and most of the roof over Home and Garden would collapse.

Bunny on.


Blogger Ericka said...

i LOVE hardware stores like that. finding them when i travel is kind of a hobby.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Jeni said...

Sounds very much like the local hardware stores around here. Once, almost 30 years ago now, the spigot on the kitchen sink went bad on me and typical for me then (no different now, really) money was extremely scarce and the thought of getting someone to get the piece -new faucet -then install it, I knew would be well out of my range. I kept thinking about what my Mom would have done and knew instinctively that she would have gone to the hardware store, bought the faucet and then, brought it home and installed it herself. And at that time, I was still laboring under the delusional thinking of "Anything my Mom could have done, I can do too!" So I called one hardware store, told 'em what I wanted/needed and he said they had just the ticket. I went and bought it, got home, turned the water off, took out the old unit and went to put the new one in only to find that it was the wrong size! So back to the hardware store I went with it and the older (than me, anyway) lady who worked there waited on me and gave me my money back because they didn't have the size I needed but she located one for me at a hardware store about 12 miles away -which I went, bought, dropped it in and got almost all the connections done by myself -until it came to some fitting needed to the copper tubing for which I needed a hacksaw and which I did NOT have!
I had worked the midnight shift the night before tackling this project and by the time I got to the point where I realized I needed a hacksaw, it was almost 6 p.m. My kids hadn't been fed supper yet, I hadn't slept all day either and had to be to work by 10:30 p.m. so I sat in the middle of the kitchen floor and cried! My next door neighbor happened over about that time, took a glance around the room and saw what I needed and he went home, dug out a hacksaw and finished the job for me.
The neat things about that ordeal for me was 1) hearing the lady at the one hardware store explain exactly to me how to install this thing and 2) realizing maybe I couldn't do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING my Mom could do, but that I wasn't afraid to try and I almost succeeded too!
And in what big box store would you get that kind of personalized service too?

4:45 PM  

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