Thanks, Pop

I’m a frugal shopper when it comes to shop supplies. But sometimes cost isn’t the issue, but plain old availability: If you need it, you get it wherever you can.

Anyone making reproduction items spends a lot of time searching the Internet and going through catalogs to find accurate hardware, fasteners, finishes and the like. With some things we get lucky, and if a particular item we need hasn’t really changed over the years we can just pick it up at a local Big Box store.

That’s the case with cut copper tacks. What you’ll find today aren’t appreciably different from a hundred or more years ago, and meet my standards just fine. But when I went to a local Big Box, even though they had a huge array of them they didn’t have the size I needed. That was odd, considering that’s where I’d gotten them before. It wasn’t a case of them simply being out, either. There was no empty hook where those tacks should be hanging; the sizes just jumped from a smaller size to the next larger one. No big deal. I didn’t need them in a hurry, so I’d just send away for them.

But on the way home, on a hunch I stopped at our Mom & Pop hardware store, a locally owned franchise of a hardware store chain. Although their fastener section would otherwise be dwarfed by the one at the Big Box store, they had the tacks – in copper – in the exact size I needed. This isn’t the first time this store has come to my rescue – as odd as it is for the Big Box not to have something that would seem quite ordinary to stock, this place on several occasions has, just as oddly, had it.

This hardware store isn’t the first place I go when getting supplies locally. I shop there a lot and know from experience that they’re just not big enough to have what I usually need. But that same experience tells me that at other times, if I can’t find it there’s a good chance they’ll have it.

If I strike out elsewhere, this store is literally the first second place I always check.



  • Bob Eilers says:

    That situtation has happened to me on numerous occasions also.
    Case in point. I needed some clear lacquer–I usually buy 5 gals at a time. My supplier had it but his shipping was over $30.00 and the lacquer was about $50.00 higher than the local Ace hardware–without the shipping. I had to buy in gallon cans from the hardware store but it was still cheaper than my suppliers 5 gallon can.

  • Joe Hornor says:

    We have a similar situation with a local store. I generally did the same as you when shopping locally. Go to the big guy first because of price and selection. I find now I have changed my mind. The local guy is working hard to keep his store open and supply what I need. Also, he cares about my business. The big box couldn’t care less if I never came back. I owe it to the little guy to try him first. The difference in cost is not always a factor.

  • Rich says:

    “Although their fastener section would otherwise be dwarfed by the one at the Big Box store,”

    My local M&P hardware has a larger fastener selection than the BORG.

    The M&P hardware is my first choice when looking for fasteners. When compared to the BORG the cost is within a few percent. But being closer and MUCH quicker check out makes it worth while.

  • Carl Evans says:

    If you place value on your time, the fact your not searching for your item sometimes offsets the higher cost. I have a local maybe 1 mile away hardware store that is a throwback to another era mom & pop general store that’s now run by the sons. It’s amazing what they have hidden in the least likely places. This store has been there forever. They probably have stuff they don’t even know they have. They will even break up a gallon of paint into 4 qts if you need them too when it’s not packaged that way anymore. How do you put a price on that?

  • Alan Blough says:

    As David Wilcox so eloquently put it in his song, “Go to East Ashville Hardware, before you go to Lowe’s”.

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