Little Drawers

July 7, 2010

Sometimes you just need a small thing—a bolt with a particular threading, a flange, a pull chain, a key, a heavy-duty hook—and the only place to get it is the hardware store. Not the hardware section of a department store, where things come packaged in dozens. No, a real, generations old hardware store.

A real hardware store is where the son or the daughter of the original owner can identify that funny little thing in the palm of your hand, and they tell one of their offspring to show you its location. Where the thing you want is in one of those little drawers, in an aisle of little drawers, each labeled with a description of the contents on the outside.

In a real hardware store they can cut you a pane of glass or mix your paint or sell you a bucket and cleaning supplies. And sometimes a real hardware store is a place where you can go with no aim in mind but to open those little drawers, disregard the intended purpose of the items contained within, and think of different functions for them altogether.

A nice thing… all the little things in all the little drawers, and all their intended or possible uses.

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7 Responses to “Little Drawers”

  1. Julie said

    Oh I do love hardware stores, too. Down here the good ones are a dying breed.

    When we lived in PA, for a time my ex and I were the on-site caretakers, etc., of a private club with all sorts of things that broke. He would be fixing and hand me something that he needed to replace. Neither of us knew the name, only the function, of the part. I’d trot off to Deck’s Hardware, with its wooden floors, seemingly countless staircases and cubby holes, and hundreds of drawers to hold my hand outstretched with the unnamed part to the knowledgeable clerk. They never failed to identify the part and replace it.

    But one of the best treats was buying rope or chain. All of the different varieties fed up from the basement through holes in the floor. There were yardsticks attached to the floor and they’d pull whatever you needed out of the basement, stretching it along the floor to measure it. Magical.

  2. Julie… you’re making me swoony with your description. God… I really love those places. We still have one in Keene. There was one in Biloxi when we lived there in the eighties. I don’t know if it’s still there. Sigh.

  3. The little things from the little drawers MUST go in little teeny tiny paper bags. Love that. What a nice thing.

  4. We still have these up north, where the towns are smaller and Wal-Mart hasn’t destroyed them.

    In our general store near the cottage, they have a little room off the main store. You step down; it’s like an after thought. And in this small, perfectly organized room, I guarantee you can find anything. Not 100 of anything, but 1 or 2.

    And then you can go back out front and add your finds to the newspaper and marshmallows and milk that sent you into town in the first place.

  5. Mary-Ellen said

    There is one in the town I now live in in CA. I went there at Christmas time because Patrick had lost his favorite hammer. I was trying to surprise him, but to me, a hammer is a hammer. I described it to the clerk, he asked me a few questions about Patrick and the work he used it for – and replaced the hammer. It was the right brand, right type and right weight! Just based on the limited info I had given. Patrick was thrilled. It was a very nice thing.

  6. kenhoney said

    I thought you were talking about small underpants. Never mind.

  7. Michelle said

    Oh I just loved this. Living out in a rural area, we have a small hardware store just like this. We walk in there and someone greets you and takes you to the thingy you didn’t know the name of. They have bolts of tablecloth material with bright fruit and flower prints on it, so you can cut your outdoor tablecloth to size.

    This also made me think of the furniture in my home. I have Chinese antiques throughout my house and my favorite piece is a 275 year old pharmacy hutch. There are little drawers all over the front of it. I love opening them up and remembering what treasures I put there.

    Definitely a good thing.

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