Looking for a Hardware Store Interview Subject

Image from the new CLUI Morgan Cowles Archive

Hey all, I’m working on an article for the May issue of Urban Farm magazine on the subject of businesses to patronize before they disappear. One of those businesses is your local independent hardware store. If you either own or work at a hardware store and have opinions, I’d like to interview you. Send me an email at [email protected]. For the rest of you, if you have an opinion about the types of businesses I should profile leave a comment.

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  1. I don’t own or work in one. But we buy our horse feed as well as many other things at our local hardware store in the little town of Oxford, NY. I am fortunate to live between 2 small towns who have those old fashioned hardware stores. The owners know where everything is. From canning supplies to pitcher pumps, you name it. If they don’t have it, they will order it special for you. One of the hardware stores doesn’t even take debit or credit cards!

  2. Haven’t seen an INDEPENDENT hardware store in ages! Nor have I seen a shoe repair place! Getting shoes repaired and could also sew a seam in a ripped purse or jacket. And as appliances have gotten cheaper, the cost of repair is more than the cost of a replacement so they’re gone. Small engine repair (like lawnmowers, chainsaws, air compressors, etc), and even getting scissors and cutting tools sharpened is hard! Also the tailor. Can think of a few others from my childhood, like the Chinese Laundry, but that would no longer be polically correct.

  3. Berg Hardware in Pasadena CA has been there forever and they are the greatest! They are always ready to help and I have been going there ever since I can remember!

  4. I love the little japanese hardware stores, they have the neatest japanese gardening tools.. There’s a tiny one I frequent occasionally in little tokyo, it’s right on 1st street a few doors north of the most delicious ramen ever (daikokuya).

  5. My grandparents owned a hardware store. I hungout there all the time. Helped around when I could. It was a great place to be and great memories. I was just a kid in the 60’s when they owned it. I remember when they were retiring and sold the place. It was a very sad. The name of the place was Steiber Hardware. In Northern Wisconsin.

  6. I can’t find a hardware store anymore. Even the big chain ones have disappeared from my area. It’s very frustrating and inconvenient. I miss them.

  7. mjlai – you beat me to it! That is my favorite hardware store. I try to visit it every time I get into LA. It’s dreamlike, so many things to be figured out (since I don’t speak or read Japanese).

  8. Hardwicks in Seattle is great, but I moved to Providence and don’t know a real great one here. Adler’s Hardware in Providence is independent, I think, but they seem to be focusing more on home decorating than hardware.

  9. I patronize or have patronized in l.a.

    Vermont Outlet True Value – Vermont Ave. N of Jefferson.

    Mission Super Hardware, Ace – Valley near New, in San Gabriel.

    Ross Cutlery – Bradbury Building downtown for sharpening and knives.

    Sanyo Nursery – on Pomona in Montebello or East LA.

    Anzen Hardware – 1st St. Little Tokyo, Downtown.

    Have not patronized, but know about

    Zinke’s Shoe Repair in Pasadena.

    San Gabriel Nursery – San Gab. Bl., San Gabriel.

    Bellefontaine Nursery – Pasadena.

    There are a lot of small hardware stores and nurseries in Los Angeles County. You just need to look for them. They’re on the online yellow pages.

    I don’t have a big anti-Home-Depot streak or anything. I shop there a lot. But it’s good to patronize the indie store for a lot of reasons. For one, they tend to stock hardware that matches the local architecture and plumbing. So 90% of the time, they will have the part you need. Go to HD, and it’s a crapshoot.

    Aside from that, the lines are a lot shorter. The prices are a little higher, but not enough to matter, in most situations.

    They’re also more plugged in with local businesses that will offer services. Also, the level of service matters to local businesses that are more time-constrained, and rely on referrals from the local shops.

    You know how smart folks point out that some plants are all branches, and others have a lot of roots, and some are really more root than branches or leaves? Some local shops have roots, and these roots touch the roots of other local businesses that provide services.

  10. This is probably long past, now, but YEAH Hardwick’s in Seattle is AWESOME.

    Also, Morgan Cowles was a friend of mine in grad school; the archive from which you got your photo was sponsored by his friends and family after he died in an avalanche a couple years ago. It made me happy to see his name again, and to think of him contributing still. Thanks.

  11. Hey Lauren,

    It’s a small word–I used to work for the CLUI and was at the opening party for the archive. His family was in attendance. Happy too that his name is on this amazing archive.

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