Neighborhood hardware stores do it best
[Excerpt from article by John Diaz in the San Francisco Chronicle.]
As a do-it-yourselfer who likes to take on new challenges, in house and yard, I’ve found that customer service is inversely proportional to the size or specialization of the store. Start a sentence with “I’m looking for this thing” and you’ll be greeted with a sneer at a typical lumberyard or plumbing supplier. At Home Depot, chances are you’ll encounter a blank stare.
At a neighborhood hardware store, more likely than not, you’ll have a partner in problem solving by the time you finish fumbling through your words and hand gestures.
So I get a little anxious when I read about industry trends, such as the report that sales at the nation’s hardware stores and home centers fell 6 percent last year, the first such year-to-year drop in recent memory. It’s not hard to find an abundance of recent stories with a familiar theme – a town’s venerable hardware store is about to close, victim of the economy and big-box competition – from Modesto to New Haven, Conn…
A hardware store is the old-school equivalent of an Internet message board. More than a few times, I’ve listened in on a conversation about a do-it-yourselfer’s problem I’ve either had or anticipate having. I’ve had licensed electricians and professional painters offer me tips of the trade. Those experiences happen rarely in a big-box setting, where help is as elusive as an antique brass screw you need to match a door’s strike plate.