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Thread: Miss the Mom and Pop Hardware stores

  1. #1

    Miss the Mom and Pop Hardware stores

    Went to Lowes yesterday for a few things and was searching through the tool department searching for a certain size brad point bit. An employee stocking shelves was near and I ask, "Do you carry brad point bits?" He replies, " I have worked 5 years in the tool department and never heard of such a thing." Just as the last word comes out, I spy them on the bottom hooks next to the Forstner bits. They have on card with 5 assorted sizes, but not the size I need. I handed them to the employee, told him I need a 7/16th and walk away.

  2. #2
    You picked the worst place to go. Lowe’s is a home improvement store, Home Depot is much more like a hardware store. I hate Lowe’s - any store that puts hardware on the opposite end from building materials - I mean, Come On!

    Closest thing you’ll find is Ace, True Value, etc.

    But still, employee knowledge is hit or miss. At my Ace, I always look for Gene, who’s worked there for over 40 years.
    Last edited by Robert Engel; 03-24-2021 at 7:04 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    We have a decent supply of non-Borg harware sources -- 2 True Valu and one Ace within 10 miles. Maybe 15 miles away there's a real old time if-they-dont-have-it-you-don't-need-it place. Finkles in Lambertville NJ. finkles.com.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    They are still around, and indeed seem to be rebounding. There are three independents that are within the distance it takes me to get to HD or Lowes. The key to their survival is for people to shop there. Likewise for the independent lumberyards. Make a point of going there rather than the big box stores. Yes it might cost a buck or two more per trip, but you are supporting your neighbors by doing so.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    There have to actually be independent retail lumberyards in order to patronize them. The closest retail lumberyard I know of is a 40 mile round trip. I will go there occasionally for special items, but I won’t make the trip for a 2x4.

    Other lumberyards are huge and specialize in selling to contractors. They are open like 7 am to 4 pm and not on weekends. The ones that will sell retail treat you like a bother.

  6. #6
    Good luck finding a 7/16 Brad point at a mom and pop store. Quality of service is where they excel - not selection.

    Alas, how can a mom and pop survive when it requires our charity to subsist. I am sad about it too.

  7. #7
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    Its good to hear a lot of people are trying to support their communities and do business locally, as I do. If I can't get what I am after at Ernie's Hardware I will go to a chain. If I shop the chain I still tell myself I am helping the locals who work there to remain employed. I do however have little guilt over buying online instead of at the BORG. Here's a nice BP bit. There are others.

    I don't expect a return to the "fair price" model in retailing now that we have become a "lowest price possible" society. Once you paid a fair price for an item. This price allowed a profit that paid for the training and employment of intelligent people who strove to do a good job. Many found their place in one area or another and became the person who the rest went to for answers. Workers made a good wage and so could pay a fair price for the things that they bought. See how this worked? When your goal is to provide the lowest price, there is no room in the profit margin of the product for anything but getting the product from maker to buyer. Service before and after the sale, convenience, atmosphere, and a pleasant experience fall to the wayside.

    Orchard Supply Hardware was a California based outfit that ran from 1931 to 2018. When you needed a 1/4" x 28TPI oval-head machine screw 1-1/8" long, OSH is where you went. Ace does a pretty good job of carrying small amounts of a wide array of hardware and I get lucky there sometimes. My Ace is locally owned and run by people from my community so I shop there when I can. I'll even pay a bit more to keep my cash in my neighborhood but, I can't consistently pay 15% more or higher.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 03-24-2021 at 9:10 AM.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    About 18 years ago, we had a massive ice storm that took out power for a huge chunk of the area I live in. Most businesses were closed for a couple of miles radius for about three days. The only place open was the local Ace store. Without lights or power, they would take customers desperate for batteries and flashlights, extension cords, propane, etc., into the store by flashlight and find what they needed. With no cash registers, credit card readers, or scanners working, the workers guessed at the prices, estimated the total cost and wrote it down on a piece of paper for customers to come back and pay when they could. Now that one incident earned my eternal loyalty. I cant imagine the big box stores doing anything like that.

  9. #9
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    HD came to Canada several years before Lowes and for the most part, they have built near a HD, so they're both easy to get to. I tried, but I just can't like Lowes. Selection is generally not as good, prices are generally not as good, store layout is not as good, no tap at checkout, no emailed receipts. So Lowes is a last resort for me.

    We spend a month camping in British Columbia every summer. There's a small general store that's in the middle of nowhere, literally at a wide spot in the road. The hardware section is probably no more than 300 or 400 sq. ft., but I'm amazed at the variety of stuff they carry. I can usually find what I need, or an alternate that will work. I think it takes someone who really knows what they're doing to run a store like that.

  10. #10
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    Get over it, they all will be out of what you you are looking for on occasions. I shop at both stores.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    There are still a few around, but it's a tough business for folks that run them to stay successful. There's one in Lambertville NJ (Finkles) that's pretty well known and still doing well. Some of them have had to adopt a similar format to the 'borg, however, just to stay competitive....larger stores, more focused selection rather than "anything you can imagine", etc.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    ABout 20 miles from me is a small town named Beaverville that has a great old hardware store called, aptly enough, Beaverville Hardware. The town at last count had 362 souls living there, but somehow this great little store survives. I do what I can by shopping there and they have a remarkable selection of "stuff". Plus I can get my Blue Bunny ice cream cone there for the ride home.

    2021-03-24_09h47_38.jpg
    Stand for something, or you'll fall for anything.

  13. #13
    The best one I've been to is Jerry's in Eugene Oregon. As big as any borg with 4X the selection. My favorite example was the wall of toilet seats on display. Must have been 50 or more.

    Jim

  14. #14
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    If you want to see real old-fashioned throwback, visit the Harry J Epstein hardware store right in the heart of the Kansas City, MO downtown business district. Been there since 1933 and looks like it. All those old-fashioned nooks and crannies of hard-to-find stuff and decent new things too. They do online sales https://www.harryepstein.com but the store is a treat - even smells like an old hardware store.

  15. #15
    We had a great true value, but it closed. Every time I compare prices between Lowes and Home Depot, Lowes is cheaper for most of the identical items. Also when I was re-doing my old farm house, only Lowes carried pex plumbing tubing or supplies, no one else. The other reason I like the local Lowes, is their employees who hate plants. They don't get watered regularly and as soon as they look a little wilted they are marked down to nuthin. I have purchased so many shrubs and berry bushes for 10 cents on the dollar and my Mrs. has the touch to have them green and growing again in no time. We do have a local Ace with a nice well experienced local family running it, but they view themselves as more of a garden center. They have a bare selection of hardware and nearly anything is special order. Oh they will have it in no time. But I can get it delivered to the house if I shop on line. So anyway, I ordered the 7/16th brad point bit on line.

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