Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Best Hardware Store

Glenn Reynolds discusses the comparative merits of Lowe's and Home Depot.

In my view, neither one can hold a candle to McKnight's Hardware on East Bessemer Street in Greensboro, especially if you've got a tricky home repair project that requires hardware expertise.

Though McKnight's is an old, family-owned hardware store, the staff is very high-tech. Service people walk the floor with little headsets on, and will ask you immediately if they can help you find something. They know EXACTLY where everything is -- or if they don't, they radio someone who does. If you tell them you're just browsing, they'll leave you alone, and if you need advice, they're usually pretty knowledgeable. By now, most of the staff recognize me when I come in.

They also sell Carrhart clothing along with hunting equipment in a corner of the store that is decorated with animal head trophies. It's where I bought my wife's Christmas present this year (a 20-gague shotgun).

It's not a huge store, but they seem to have a lot of stuff -- just not things like lighting, rugs, and major appliances. The only real downside is that they're closed on Sundays, when I like to do most of my hardware-related puttering.


joated said...

I do love the smell of a small hardware store! I can go in to buy some nails and end up walking up and down the aisles just browsing like I do in the library. There is always some new gadget or gizmo that I have to pick up and handle.

Usually there's an owner/clerk whith whom you can get into a discussion about the merits of item A versus item B. It's a great way to spend an hour or two.

Anonymous said...

here's an anthem to go with the thread....

East Asheville Hardware by David Wilcox

...Always go to East Asheville Hardware
Before you go to Lowe's

You'll help to keep them open
I'm worried they might close
From the stiff competition
From the national conglomerate
With the full page ad
in the color section of the Sunday paper supplement
and stacks of plastic swimming pools
and seven brands of power tools
and rows and rows of registers
all having nice days

But no, you go, he said to me with light around his face
He said, You go first to that age-old place
To that old wooden door
that you have to close behind you
To the wide-board wooden floor
worn down soft

To the real thing
Good advice, quality at a fair price
And know that they know how deep the frost goes here.

Anonymous said...

David, like Greensboro, Port Orchard, WASHINGTON has a great hardware store that kicks butt when matched up against the big box stores. Mclendon Scott ACE Hardware is not unlike your McKnight's store. What sets them apart from the big box stores is 'CUSTOMER SERVICE". Any store that forgets customer service will be doomed to mediocrity. I love and support my local ACE hardware store.

Anonymous said...

same for A & A Trading Post in Littleton, CO

Anonymous said...

There's a TruValue hardware store in Gassaway, West Virginia ... creaky wood floors, dusty bins of things dating back decades. The owner is young lady named Margie who has yet to disappoint in terms of her knowledge of hardware.

One thing I've often wondered ... the cost of the inventory in a hardware store must be astronomical. Some it turns very infrequently. It's a cash flow business ... what's turning rapidly that makes up for the stuff that sits on the shelf for years?

Anonymous said...

I find our local plumbing supply store much preferable to the local Home Despot. Much better selection, knowledgeable employees, happy to help you find what you need and willing to sell even a single washer if that's whatyou need.

Anonymous said...

Up in New England, the Vermont Alliance of Independent Country Stores has a website that makes it easier to find local general stores. Are there any equivalent organizations and/or websites in other parts of the country?

Martha Powell said...

In Dallas, Texas, the best hardware store is Elliott's Hardware. Retired guys at the door direct you to the aisle where you find an employee expert who shows you the exact thing you need. And they have terrific items like dental tools and meat grinders and kitchen fairies. Once, a dimwit at Home Depot referred me to Elliott's because he couldn't imagine what kind of drill bit I'd need to drill through ceramic tile. Duh. A masonry bit!

opine6 said...

Home Depot's customer service (or lack thereof), leaves a lot to be desired.

I purchased a washer/dryer on Dec 9 for my son's Christmas. It was supposed to be free delivery. Turns out, I had to apply for a delivery refund through a third party. Problem is HD didn't send me any paperwork to apply for the refund. After 8 phone calls and one nasty letter, I finally got my refund on the 10th of April-FOUR MONTHS LATER.

My experience with Lowes has been good.

I live in a small town with two hardware stores and I make purchases there also.

Joe Killian said...

Since it didn't strike anyone else as odd I'm going to go ahead and laugh at the fact that you bought your wife a shotgun for Christmas.

I'm assuming she's a hunting enthusiast or something - so good for you - but it just struck me as funny. If my father - a Marine - had ever bought my mother a weapon....oh geez...

Anonymous said...

I purchased a Pella storm door at Lowes last spring. I also paid $88 for installation. The sub who came out to do the installation for Lowes refused to install the storm door because the brick molding around the door casing needed to be fired-out. I offered to pay the guy for the additional labor; however, he still refused. I went to Lowes to get a refund on my $88 labor charge. The manager appeared confused as to why the sub refused to do the install. He offered to send a different sub out. I accepted. The second sub also refused to do the install. Anyway, got the refund. My father- in-law finally ended up installing the storm door in about an hour one Sunday afternoon. So much for Lowe's customer service.

Anonymous said...

that age-old place
To that old wooden door
that you have to close behind you
To the wide-board wooden floor
worn down soft

To the real thing
Good advice, quality at a fair price
And know that they know how deep the frost goes here.

Sounds like Swaim Hardware in Paris, TX. If they don't have it, it's not available. I'd sure hate to do an inventory of that place, though.


SD said...

And don't forget Greensboro's Holliday Hardware, on Spring Garden Street just west of Chapman. A great store with wonderful personal service and a vast collection of hardware in a tiny place. And you used to be able to walk through the world's narrowest door, into the store next door (which was Holliday Shoe Repair).

Anonymous said...

Pleasant’s Hardware in Richmond, Virginia. These folks have seen it all and can finish your sentences for you. Great knowledge, service, and inventory. And nice folks too.

Rustam Sheridan said...

Lowe's all the way, baby. There's a saleswoman that works in the flooring department at the Lowe's on Battleground that is H-O-T. Smokin' hot. Her name is Rachel, and I think I love her.

Rob Ainbinder said...

Reading this post (and ALL the comments) reminded me of the hardware store of my child hood. It was an ACE dealer with asile of bind fill of nut, bolts, screws and any manner of fastener required.

The best hardware store (and the only one I'm aware of) on the North side of Asheboro, NC is Hammerhead's. I've been in once so far and they had exactly what I wanted (Dry Gas treatment) and showed me every size available. I was in and out in about 5 mins total. Can't get that at Home Despot or SLowe's.