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Friday, April 24, 2015


The hardware store in the little town where I used to live just closed down.  I have noticed several old traditional hardware stores have recently locked their doors.  I suspect it is the competition from the large box stores, Home Depot and Lowes.

I like Home Depot and Lowes.  They have everything you could possible need for your home at prices a little cheaper than the old Mom and Pop hardware stores. If you want a larger ticket item you go to Lowes or HD.  If you want a small hard to find item or need some assistance you go to Mom and Pop.

The problem with this is the biggest profits come from big ticket items and assistance and hard to find items do not pay the rent.  The result is good-bye Mom and Pop hardware store.  I am as guilty as anyone else. We consumers may have saved $1.98 on a leaf blower, but we will have lost so much more.

The big box stores offer little assistance, and the assistance they offer is dubious.   I once asked to have a piece of sheetrock cut in half.  I cringed as the clerk scored and snapped the wrong side of the sheetrock.  It was not a pretty cut.  These stores used to hire out-of- work contractors and good advice was available.  Now that contractors are back working at contracting, the stores hire idiots.

Mom and Pop never cut the sheetrock wrong, and they can tell you how to finish a job and what tools or materials you need.

The thing about the little stores is they can't charge enough for their knowledge and convenience. 

If you need a special connector it will take you hours to find it in the big box store.  When you do find the connectors you have to buy a box of 50 when you only need three.  And you had better be absolutely sure of the connector you need or you will be making multiple trips.

The little store offers service.

“What’cha looking for sir?”

“I need a ¾” swivel ratchet screw to attach my frazen bauble to a framish pole.”

“Is that a Black and Decker 3000 framish pole?”


“Then you need a 5/8” hinged ratchet screw. I suggest the hex head over a slotted head, less chance of stripping.  How many do you need?”


“Third drawer left of the drill bits in the back…wait, I’ll go get them.”

“Thanks…la da dee da la da dee.”

“Here you are sir, three 5/8” hex head hinged ratchet screws.  That will be 18 cents.”

Hmmm, I wonder why these little hardware stores are going the way of the dodo bird. 

I don’t miss the dodo, but I will miss the Mom and Pop hardware stores.


  1. It is sad because of all of us trying to be as money conscious as we are that we drive the Ma and Pa stores out of business, even though we know we will miss the services they provide. I hate the fact that I shop at Wal-Mart but it has the best prices around and what can one do when one is on a tight budget? I do feel for those that really tried to make a business work and then be swallowed by the giants in the business.


  2. And book stores have been replaced by Amazon!!

  3. SD loves a little hardwear store as much as I love a Charity Shop but they are becoming few and far between. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for anything but nobody wants to loose these places either - it's a conundrum ...

  4. The biggest problem I have with the big stores is everything comes in sealed packs of five or seven or some other odd number. So if I need a dozen of something I end up with 12 or 14. Or they no longer carry the non-profitable small thing I need to fix a tap in a 100 year old jerry-built bathroom.

  5. We have an ACE hardware near the house. They used to be small and mom and popish and have recently doubled in size. New staff and some green, but you can always get the expert if you ask. I love the place.

  6. I go past Lowes to go to ACE. They have what I want or tell me what I need.

  7. i recently went to my local ace hardware to get bolts and nuts for my mower deck wheels. helpful and efficient as can be and had me hooked up with replacements for the ones i snapped off in no time!

  8. You are exactly right, and it isn't confined to just hardware stores. National chain stores are/have taken over most everything. Restaurants, car dealerships, furniture stores, home builders....and it isn't a good trend. These days the buzz word(s) are "economy of scale".

  9. I remember the family owned hardware stores as a kid. They just can't compete with the giant box stores any more. The Denaults just closed last year. My last purchase there was less than a dollar. Funny post.

  10. You nailed the lack of service. I guess when you hire idiots service isn't in the mix. This is unfortunately spot on.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  11. Me too. They were the place to go for that odd item that was hard to describe. I fear I helped to kill them also by buying the big stuff elsewhere.

  12. The local variety store that carried all the really neat crafty stuff went away when the Bentonville pirate firm opened.
    The pirate has the stuff, but it has to be ordered online for in-store pickup.
    When you go in to pick up, there is nobody there to wait on you.
    When someone finally shows up, they can't find your order.
    When they finally get it, it isn't right.

    We used to have three hardware stores here.
    Now there's one.
    They seem to have their act together.

  13. We have a marvelous old mom-n-pop hardware store, complete with the narrow aisles that they must pay the fire marshal to stay away from. They don't sell appliances, or even power tools, as far as I can tell. They just have everything else.

    They'll sharpen your ax or your lawnmower for you (even a push mower); they'll fix your storm windows or do small engine repairs (see lawnmowers, above). If you bring 'em something weird that you don't even know what it is, they'll unfailingly know, not only what it is, but they'll have one in stock (that they've probably had on the shelf for 15 years, just waiting for you to come and buy it), and they'll know which dusty corner of the store it hides in.

    I go there as often as I can, and I hope against hope that Junior is waiting in the wings to take over when mom-n-pop decide it's time to move to Florida. But you know, that doesn't happen so often anymore, either. . .

  14. It's the same for book stores, as fishducky mentioned. Sad.

  15. I like Ace. They are one of the few companies that actually send you money if you use their (Ace) card.

  16. I like Orchard Supply Hardware, but I don't know if that's a national chain or just on the West Coast. It helps that they're practically across the street. Not long ago I needed a certain type of plastic washer for our frame-less shower door and I went to five stores before I found a replacement, at a small mom and pop hardware store.

  17. Sniff sniff. I'll miss them for sure. Recently they saved me the price of a plumber. I took a picture of the back of the toilet thingy on my phone and the hardware guy told me exactly what I needed and how to do it. I did. Imagine me fixing a toilet.

  18. We still have a few of them, and they now also do all the lawn and garden and plants and tons of other things so that they will stick around, at least for a while.

  19. Indeed. And then their were the local bakeries that disappeared along with lots of other....:(

  20. Some little bookstores were replaced by Barnes and Noble and then the B&N store disappeared too.

  21. We love our Ace hardware store. Your description was spot on!

    You are right about Home Depot and Lowe's - big and understaffed with people who don't know what they are doing. I frequently have to call these stores as part of my job and sit on hold or get disconnected because nobody answers the phone. Once I asked to talk to the manager on duty, and after several clicks in the phone line realized there was someone on the other end of the phone. I started talking to that person...turns out he was a customer, also waiting to talk to the manager on duty.

  22. The young employee didn't know how to write up a price on a foot and a half of chain! Don't remember which store, but he asked my husband if he could just buy two feet, so he could figure it easier and write up the ticket. Is that ironic? A problem buying chain in a CHAIN store?

  23. There's a local hardware store that I love. I try to go to mom and pop stores as much as possible to support local business.

  24. Great piece Joe. You know how I feel about these stores. They are treasures.


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