Our local hardware store in Lewisville, NC was home to amazing things which you could use to build or fix almost anything.
On Saturday when I learned that Bill Wood is closing his Southwest Plaza store, I felt a profound sense of loss.
Bill's store was always bright, clean, and full of what I needed including advice. It was one of the greatest neighborhood hardware stores that I have had the pleasure to visit. Seeing it close for good is like watching a part of my life disappear.
I could alway get my bird seed, ice melt, wood screws, glue or whatever I needed at Bill's. The store was always there when I needed an extra strand of Christmas lights or a bulb for an ancient strand. There were odd size furnace filters, special cleaners for our counter tops, florescent light bulbs, tools, and stuff to fix the toilet when it wouldn't stop running.
Then there is my collection of garden hoses and sprinklers which all came from Bill's hardware store. It was rare that we would go to Famous Anthony's for breakfast and not stop at the hardware store.
I can imagine it is tough being a hardware store these days. Most people don't even know what is even in a hardware store much less what do with the stuff.
They depend on contractors to fix even the smallest problem. I am sure the contractors head over to Lowe's or Home Depot to buy their goods in the mistaken opinion that they will get a better deal.
As a wise man once said, time is money. That trip to the local hardware was always a time saver and often a money saver. I can't count how many containers of Brush B' Gone that I bought at the hardware store. When I happened to be at Lowe's, it was very rare that I ever saw a monetary advantage to buying my Brush B' Gone there.
We have become a nation where marketing drives our behavior. The company that markets the most can control us. Often we don't take the time to understand that something written in an advertising flyer doesn't necessary have to be true.
We would rather wander aimlessly in the caverns of a home improvement store than have intelligent human help guide us not only in finding our purchases but how to effectively use them.
Do we really value the human touch these days? Would we rather shop without human contact?
It is hard to be a small business these days. Small businesses have a heart, they treat their employees well and take care of their customers because they want them to come back.
Large corporations assume that there are plenty of customers in the world. They and their almost identical competition have the market tied up. If they lose a customer, they assume they will pick up one that the competition has lost. Their tarnished reputations or lack of service mean little to them.
When it comes to employees, large corporations assume that their employees are expendable.
When a small business like Wood's Ace Hardware closes, we have lost something that was part of us. It cannot be replaced in a giant home improvement store miles away from our neighborhood.
With the number of small hardwares dropping precipitously across the country, it isn't a surprise that we are losing one of ours in southwest county.
Over the last couple of years, I have seen too many empty spaces in local strip malls. It is easy to assume that rising rents play a key role along with changing demographics in deciding when to close up shop.
I can only wonder how big a role the disappearance of the home handyman is playing in the death of hardware stores?
Whatever the reasons behind the closing of Wood's Ace Hardware, Bill and his team, which included his wife, Monica, will be greatly missed by many of us on this side of the county.
I wish them all well in their new endeavors. I know they won't be twiddling their thumbs.
Bill told me they will be having a great sale over the next few weeks as he gets rid of all their inventory. I guess it is time to stock up on a few things.