For many people a visit to the hardware store can be a frequent activity. In the spring you might need fresh mulch and garden tools to prepare your yard for summer; once the heat arrives it’s time to get that lawn mower serviced and running; fall might as well be a synonym for “leaf blower”; and winter could mean extra space heaters in the house. When you add up all the in between issues that come up throughout the year, from light bulbs to paint projects to the worn out flapper on the toilet that needs replacing, you may find that you make more trips to the hardware store than you realized.
A run to the nearest big box store may seem like the logical move. After all, they seem to carry everything under the sun. But how often do you find yourself searching for the needed item with no one around to help you find it? Wouldn’t it be nice if your hardware store relationship was friendly and reliable? It might be time to call your locally owned hardware store instead.
Bill Peck is the fourth generation owner of Peck Ace Hardware in Florence’s Seven Points. Several of his employees have been with the business for five and 10 years, and his master mechanic has been there for over twenty years. “We’re a small team and we’ve been here so long, we really know what we’re talking about,” Peck says. “If you’re working on a project, it’s nice to come back and talk with the same guy. You don’t have to explain your project over and over, and we can follow up and help solve problems as they come up.”
Since most of us aren’t professional plumbers or handymen, finding someone who’s knowledgeable and confident can make the difference between a frustrating home improvement project and an enjoyable experience. Big box stores may have the appeal of familiarity because they often dominate advertising space, but they’re also notorious for offering only part-time employment, which contributes to high turnover and less knowledgeable staff. When we shop local, small businesses can more easily offer full-time employment and keep their employees happy and sticking around a long time. Shopping local builds community and keeps our dollars at home, not shipped off to a distance corporate office.
ACE hardware stores are a cooperative owned by local dealers. “ACE recommends things for us to carry in the store, but independent owners make the final decision,” Peck says. “This allows me to bring in the product mix that is best for my customers, and we stay on top of that because needs change and products change and we want to have the product mix that people are looking for.”
Some independent local hardware stores, like Peck’s, also have a mechanic on the premises. Every piece of equipment they sell can be serviced and repaired right in the store without having to ship it off to the dealer. From paint matching to plumbing and electrical needs to garden tools, Peck says if they don’t already have what a customer is looking for, they can easily get it. “Our store is not a museum. We have that old hardware store feel that a lot of people like, but our products are up to date and helpful,” says Peck. Shopping locally benefits the customer, the store owner and the community at large. For your next project, check out your locally-owned hardware store and find out for yourself.