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View Diary: Locks, chains and more! The Edwardian hardware store (25 comments)

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  •  As usual, I have a story… (7+ / 0-)

    In 1960 (a continent and full half century beyond the Edwardian world) I was offered a position at a local hardware store. It was my first job. I would work Saturdays, 0800-1800 for the princely (for a 16 year old) sum of $5. It was a life shaping opportunity.

    By 1960, hardware was slowly becoming the domain, not of big box stores as we have now, but as departments in even bigger box stores such as  Sears and Montgomery-Wards. It was at the dawn of the Ace and True-Value franchise stores. The individually owned Mom & Pop neighborhood or village stores were already disappearing or being stocked in packaged, predetermined quantity, hanging "product".

    Not mine, though. Temple-Morris Hardware might as well been called Anachronistic Hardware. Nails in bins, screws by the box, your fly swatters and screen door fittings, and much, much more. A time travel visitor from the Depression would have been right at home. We were the hardware store every other hardware store in the area sent people to when they didn't have the hardware answer their customer was seeking.

    I wish I could enumerate everything I learned there—a survey understanding of the hardware business at least. I learned how to make change. I learned how to keep a cash drawer. I learned I detested "busy work" (a distaste that probably led to my eventual dissassociation with T-M and which I always described as "reorganization" in subsequent work histories), learning where to find answers I didn't have at hand, asking for help from more experienced employees.

    We stocked hardware just as a store might have in any small village in the '20s. We sold fly swatters, we sold Yankee screwdrivers, we sold chain, we sold bolts, we sold Alladin kerosene heaters for the rare South Florida "cold snap" (SF must have some knowledge of Alladins), we sold kerosene out of a tank in back with a hand pump attached. And what we didn't have in stock, we could order—not from the company catalog—we were the company. We ordered from an invisible and anonymous hardware distributor whose catalog was Grainger-like in scope. "Be here in a week."

    I can't begin to list it all, and it was probably less than a year, but there are daily occurances in my life, these 53 years later, that are colored by that time in a hardware store with a wooden floor. Not the same as your turn-of-the-century exhibit, but who's left to talk of the experiences they might have gained in that store?

    Thanks for reminding me.

    LRod—UID 238035
    ZJX, ORD, ZAU retired
    My ATC site
    My Norm's Tools site

    by exatc on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 09:30:48 AM PDT

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