Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That's a cool shop Wednesday (vol.I-Cole Hardware)


This may or may not become part I in a series of Wednesday posts leading up to Christmas, posts which will highlight stores I love to visit, or maybe memorialize shops which were loved in their time and have since closed. I'd also like it to be a forum for my 2 or so readers to chime in about places they love to shop. There is something about the neighborhood shopping experience that, whether it's a wine shop, a corner market, a clothing or record boutique, provides a local and satisfying way to support our consumerist urges in a way that also supports others. So let's embrace the creative entrepreneurial spirit, celebrate responsible capitalism and get things started.

When I was a little half-pint, I always enjoyed trips to the Pikesville hardware store. I had no idea what most of the items were that they were selling, nor was I especially curious about what they were. I just loved that there was a store with so many bizarre gadgets and random stuff, all crammed together in a tight space, with a shifting array of rust, metal and topsoil aromas permanently circulating the air. It was the polar opposite of growing up in my parents' home, where everything was incredibly tidy and generally lacking any strong smells. Ours was a home where projects usually involved cleaning or cooking, rather than any sort of home repair projects or fabrications. So the disorderly collection of foreign stuff with which to do foreign home projects always held some sort of distant appeal for me.

My neighborhood hardware store is now a local bay area chain named Cole Hardware. It has all the goodies that I remember from Pikesville Hardware, though in a more organized and logical layout. I went in for a 10mm socket attachment with which I replaced my 43 year old brake pads on my bike. Since this is a San Francisco hardware store - and a savvy one at that - they have a decent selection of kitchen gadgets, environmentally friendly cleaners, and a whole lot of food as you're waiting in line to check out. Not just your usual selection of candy, there is also green & black's chocolate, cliff bars, vege. beef jerky, ice cream, whatever you need. More shops should take a cue from Cole's: stock cool, unexpected stuff in addition to your usual mix of products. People appreciate that shit. At least I do....

6 comments:

Mateo said...

Cole Hardware rules. But it's owned by ACE Hardware so it's not totally independent. Can't win em all.

Joe M. said...

Oops...I meant COLE Hardware. Didn't know they were owned by ACE. They still retain a real neighborhood, and San Francisco feel.

Rick said...

Hi,
Cole Hardware is independently owned and is a thriving local business. Ace is a cooperative owned by its member stores. Thanks for the kind words!
Rick Karp
President, Cole Hardware
rick@colehardware.com

Joe M. said...

Rick,

Thanks for the correction.

Readers take note: Cole IS independently owned. They are part of a well run cooperative. You might consider ACE the Produttori de Barbaresco of the hardware world.

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