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Hardware Stores

I’m not a happy handyman. I fix things and install things when I need to, but I don’t look forward to the process. But I like hardware stores. Go figure. I was just in two very different hardware stores: Ace Hardware and The Home Depot.

Ace is closer, so I went there first. It’s a small store; maybe one-tenth the size of the other. I can roam the whole store in about ten minutes. You can stand in the center of the store and see every aisle, and all four walls. It has a homey, comfortable feel about it, like a mom-and-pop store. There’re two or three styles of everything I see, and if I’m looking for something particular, I can get it and be out quickly.

I found what I went there for, and took it to the check out (just two registers). There was another customer at both registers, and things were held up. The computers were glitched. They mentioned having to reboot the system, so I took my item back to the shelf (about 10 steps away) and left the store.

I then went on to The Home Depot. It’s a huge store. The outdoor garden area alone is bigger than the whole of Ace. I can roam the store for half an hour and not see every aisle. It takes about five minutes just to find the location of the item I’m looking for, and then there’re 20 versions and options to choose from. Have you ever looked at the nuts and bolts aisle?

I found the item I needed and took it to one of the dozen check out counters. I saw an interesting difference at the check outs. Ace had a shelf full of candy, like you’d see at a grocery store; Home Depot had shelves full of unusual little gadgets.

There’s a scent in the air of hardware stores. Ace has the same scent throughout the store – metal, oil, paint, all mingled together. It’s not a bad smell. Home Depot has a different smell on each aisle – metal on the nuts and bolts aisle, oil on the lawn machine aisle, paint on the paint aisle. These are not bad smells either.

I like both kinds of stores—small “mom and pop” style, big warehouse style—and I enjoy visiting and roaming about both of them. I can find something interesting to look at, something I haven’t seen before, something I have no idea how to use, and something to solve some problem in my home or yard. I just really like hardware stores.


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