Hardware Store Envy, or: Man, This Sure Ain’t the Home Depot

Parked out front. The damage was from Hurricane Ian.

Tuesday, Oct. 11 | Day 7: I think only good friends Andrew Virzi, Tom McCray and Karl Gelles will truly understand this one, but if you’re feeling optimistic, do continue. I’ll keep it short since this is a rather quirky piece about hardware stores.

Interjection from the mission logistician: Owning and modifying a motorcycle or Vespa means doing at least some work on your own. Accordingly, you end up fabricating some parts and even tools. Thus, hardware stores can sometimes be among your best friends.

Aisle of Dreams: Linda searches for hard-to-find corks.

After four days of motorcycle travel, Linda and I got to St. Pete Beach late Saturday afternoon and took some time to relax and sort things out. Part of this required a stop at the South Pasadena Ace Hardware.

We’d been here before, but only briefly. Linda ended up looking for corks for her antique bottle collection and we ended up down one long aisle where I was amazed to see cabinet after cabinet of specialty screws, nuts and other items, many of which I’ve sought in the past without success, others I didn’t know existed.

Knurled thumb screws!

It had everything, including (1) classy, knurled thumb screws that would have looked good on a set of Campagnolo downshift levers; (2) brass acorn nuts; (3) plastic caps for buttoning over the scratchy heads of screws.

And it was so clean and thoughtfully organized, not the sad chaotic mess one usually finds in the well-picked-over aisles of Home Depot or Lowe’s.

The promise of joy within.

I bought a 24mm 12-point socket (I would have preferred a 6-point) for the oil drain fitting and some rubber plugs that may work to prop open the passenger peg extensions aboard Erebus and Terror, two Vespas that were parked a thousand miles away.

South Pasadena Ace Hardware was so nice I wanted to move there, which is ridiculous, but it’s a testament to how important well-stocked hardware stores are. At least to me.

And let’s not forget the tools.

7 thoughts on “Hardware Store Envy, or: Man, This Sure Ain’t the Home Depot”

  1. The long-departed Wholf Hardware in Sandusky and the still-going-strong Fessenden Hardware in Swanton are examples of the small, local hardware store that is not only likely to have what you need, but people who can tell you what you need when you think, wrongly, that you need something else. Both places had that combination of stock and knowledge that enabled me to to $10 repairs instead of the $200+ replacements the big box folks would have tried to sell me.
    In the (extraordinary) case of Wholf, I walked in the door with a wingnut that needed a mate and the old gent behind the counter disappeared into a back room as soon as I walked in the door holding the wingnut and, by the time I got up to the counter, was back with the duplicate I needed.

    1. And Fessenden stayed open a couple minutes late to sell me a sump pump I needed *right now.* Try asking Lowenards to do that.

  2. Ah yes, ACE! We are lucky enough to live near one. Sometimes I go there just to find hardware odds and ends that I didn’t know existed in a store. I go there all the time. Sure beats the other two stores for sure. They always have things the others don’t! The staff takes pride in keeping the store tidy and they are well staffed. Probably a great place to work too.

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