Local Hardware Stores


I have a thing for small towns, mom and pop truck stops, and local hardware stores. We live about 5 miles north of a town of about 2500 people and about 10 miles south of a town with about 2800 people. The local hardware store in the closer town closed down. Now, I look forward to needing to go to the hardware store north of us.


This weekend I needed to go there. The little 5’ x 8’ trailer that I have owned for close to 20 years had an issue. The fender is rusting and was pulling away from the wood sides. This gave me the chance to visit my local hardware store. The repair plan seemed good. It was to pick up to L brackets, and some machine bolts, washers and nuts at the local hardware store. Then I would have to drill holes in the fenders and the wood sides. The fender is thin sheet metal and the sides are 5/4 round green treated lumber.


For the wood sides I decided to use 1 ½ “ long quarter inch carriage bolts. Then 1” long bolts for the for the fenders. The local hardware store had exactly what I needed. The longer bolts were 15 cents a piece. The shorter bolts were 12 cents each. The project needed 4 of each. That meant 8 split washers at 7 cents each and the nuts were 6 cents. The brackets were $7.49 for a package of 4. That was double what I needed, but I like having extra hardware in the garage. The parts came in at a fair $9.61.


As a teenager I worked in the hardware department at a small Sears store in Glen Ellyn, IL. My starting was $2.10 an hour. It was a great job. A lot of things that I learned at that store, I still use today. Small stores matter. It can be a mom and pop truck stop, or a local hardware store. Small businesses are an important fabric of our economy.


Planning a small repair project and visiting the local hardware store is fun to me. Today, I had to haul a 4 wheeler in the trailer. The 4 wheeler was almost as wide as the trailer. I had forgotten about my $9.61 repair job and stepped onto fender to exit the trailer. It held. That left me satisfied. The repaired fender was strong.


It is so much more satisfying to me to visit our local store than a big box store. The people recognize me when I walk in. They are probably wondering what I broke this time. I would rather think they are wondering how good my plan is. Either way, I am good. The only way we can keep these small businesses, including small independent truck stops, going is to spend money there. So, not only did I make a strong repair, but I contributed to a strong local economy.


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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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