Hand Tools Archive

Re: follow up - not everything was rosy

david weaver
Looking back before walmart, which is usually given the honor of busting up mom and pop shops (home depot did a lot more damage to places I shop, though, or in my area, it was lowes).

Some of our small mom and pop shops in town where I grew up weren't exactly honest places, and from time to time, my friends' parents would work at one. The shops were set up as sole proprietors or LLCs with a few family members, and perhaps 10 of the general public working there. They ripped us off as customers (a local sporting good store comes to mind - everything there was double what open market price would be these days) and they were secretive about all of their services as to make them seem like they were more difficult and costly than they were (restringing baseball gloves, tennis rackets, etc.). People who knew to ask would end up getting someone like my dad to restring their glove (he was a coach of various baseball levels, amateur and semi pro, and a specialist in restoring good quality gloves before they were cheap from overseas).

The rest of the folks who walked in the door of said store got taken for a ride, and quite often, that was moms with kids where nobody had a clue what they were looking for, they just went because their kid started little league or peewee league football and they knew they needed to buy equipment.

And their ten or so employees got minimum wage. Not everything was rosy.

In terms of lowes, I recall in the early 1990s, they showed up and offered super high quality tradesman's tools for less than the local lumber yards and hardware stores, and without making proprietary slot sizes, etc, like sears did. Once they had the market, the quality of those tools started to drop, but that probably would've happened in mom and pop shops, anyway, as the wholesalers and distributors would've seen the opportunity to have stuff made overseas and share a little with the mom and pop shops and keep a lot for themselves.

I think it's inevitable that we're at this point because we cannot resist having more as a society, even if it means having only junk. In the end, if we have instantaneous delivery, it may not be that bad of a conclusion.

One other side comment: I live in the burbs and we have the ace stores and do it best. Some are helpful, and some are just trying to sell whatever junk they can to get by. One of them here sponsors a radio show and pushes really expensive lawn care routines, and they must sell them to folks around here who "need" a perfect lawn that costs a couple of grand a year. There was probably a time in the burbs before we had so much disposable income that at least some of the residents were fixing things on their own properties, but in my neighborhood of 350 houses, I don't meet too many people who are interested in more than watching a game, drinking beer and figuring out their next vacation. They aren't going to buy anything at a hardware store.

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