Friday, December 31, 2010

When does a hardware store transcend function and become art?

I just had to share this old-time hardware store with you.  I would have taken a photo of the storefront window filled with an "exhibit" of antique tools, but the window doesn't get much cleaning ... I can't imagine anyone would relish removing all of those old tools to clean the windows and then reinstall the "exhibit" again.  Hundreds of things.

The "Tilt-a-Whirl" of nuts and bolts

Palmer's is right next to Valentin, the place where I get my hair cut.  They have a lot of things, but specialize in plumbing tools and supplies.  They'll lend you the tools to do your plumbing job, explain to you how to do it, and if all else fails, they can give you the names of some plumbers. 

I love going into this place ... it's like a wonderland for tool addicts!  It's the type of hardware store that a lot of us grew up with ... the kind you can usually only find in smaller towns.  These independent Ma & Pa stores have been replaced by Lowe's and Home Depot.  It's a shame really, but I think a lot of us are trying to patronize shops owned by individuals or families.  If we're not careful, we'll blink and they will have been overtaken by conglomerates and none will be left.  Anyway, getting back to to Palmer's.  It has been around since 1958, but under "new ownership" since 1979.  

The "Planning Center" ... see the desktop planner!

When I walk into Palmer's I think what I smell is old cardboard and metal.  I mean, look at those old boxes with a neat hand-lettered description of their contents. There is a bustle of activity ... the grinding of keys, kids playing, old men talking ...  The owners are super friendly.  I buy the hose clamps and angle brackets for the torch-firing kits here ... it's the least I can do to help support an independent store owner. I wish there were more things I needed!

Palmer's Hardware, bins of hardware

The place is really wonderful ... it is more than a hardware store really ... it is installation art!


SummersStudio said...

I grew up with an old fashioned hardware store like that, even a lumber yard. Those were some of my favourite haunts as a kid. To this day I get a thrill walking into the hardware section of a store. I'm glad you patronize your local. As I remember it those sorts of places are social hubs and you are right that if we blink, they will all be gone. That's a wee bit sad.

sharon said...

We have one of these stores in my small's so great! Old timers sit in the back with cigar smoke swirling, and the wood floor has the best creaking noise, ans atmosphere never to be duplicated!

BTW, Looooove the beads in your previous post...just amazing!

mairedodd said...

i try to frequent my local hardware store as much as possible too... and i think i have a bit of a reputation as the eccentric customer... because they know why i am buying and what i am using the purchases for!

Kristi Bowman said...

Too funny, just the other day in Harbor Freight I was thinking it would be fun to take pictures in here. It's not an old time hardware store but there could still have been some good shots.

When I lived closer to a little neighborhood place I always checked if they had what I needed before going to the big store!
This place looks fantastic, not enough of them around any more!

TesoriTrovati said...

LOVE old hardware stores. We have one here called Frank's. I go there for inspiration and odd bits to use in my jewelry. I am most fond of looking in all those mystery bins. I love the springs section of my store, and all the washers. I was once invited into the back to sort through odd bits of electrical wire. You can get great gauges of wire for very cheap and then strip the plastic coating off. That reminds me... where is that wire I bought?

Enjoy the day!

Boot ~C said...

I love an old time hardware store/lumberyard, so much so I have a charge account @ my local one(just like all those old men!). Now I'm off to go put together the 12 inch version I got @ Habour Freight a while back. Happy New Year

Laura Twiford said...

Hi Barbara, my Great Grandfather owned a hardware store in Rahway NJ on Main Street going back to the 1880's. It was called TH Roberts hardware ( his name-original!)It stayed in the family until 1982. I'm sure i went there as a child with my grandfather who did woodworking but really wish i could have visited as an adult. probably where my love/addiction to tools originated!

Judy said...

I have always loved a hardware store and was so lucky to find a sweet little one in our town when we moved to Tenn. There are sooooo many cool things to create with!
I buy the muriatic acid at this store and they wonder what I do with it, so one day I showed them some pieces of jewelry and they were in amazement.

Lisa said...

what a great post Barbara! there is a little place around the corner here that is the same kind of hardware in real's everywhere if you just look.
Happy New Year!

stregata said...

We have one of those great places in the next town over. I could spend hours in hardware stores. Even on vacation (in Italy, for example) I will wander into a hardware store and look for something wonderful.
Wishing you a most Happy New Year, full of health, happiness and creative magic.

Christine Damm said...

The day that these places disappear-- well, the world will be poorer for it! We have several in Vermont that I frequent-- one place used to advertise "If we don't have it, you don't need it!" The one I love the best has several very kind salesmen who never treat me like a moron because I'm a woman and I don't know the exact name for something-- all I have to do is describe it and they know just what I mean. All the Home Desperates of the world need to take a page from their book!