You Should Pay More To Shop At A Small Hardware Store

Lately, I’ve been going to a small hardware store on the way home from work when need arises.  It’s convenient and the service is great.  Still, they’re a bit higher priced.  The other morning I was going to meet my dad for breakfast.  Across from the restaurant is a Lowe’s.  I figured I’d stop in and get a few things to save some money.  What a big mistake.

I had a pretty small list:

  • Screws to mount a small TV
  • Pesticide for our rose bushes
  • Globe light bulbs for the bathrooms
  • Rubber gloves

It was a pretty small list, so I figured the extra 25 minutes I allowed myself would be plenty of time.  Turns out I was horribly wrong.


We bought a small TV for the camper after the old one gave out.  The new one fits the old mount, but it’s lighter and skinnier than the old one.  So the screw holes are a bit smaller.  I took the old screws in, just needing some a bit shorter.

I looked all through the aisle but of course wasn’t finding anything.  Giving up, I wandered around a few aisles looking for someone.  Finally in the section where they sell wood flooring I found someone.  I asked for help, and instead of paging someone from that department, she came over to help.

Fifteen frustrating minutes later, she happened across a section of screws and I located the ones I needed.  She clearly was as lost as I was.  At one point she did try paging Gary from Hardware.  Gary never actually did arrive.


With only ten minutes to go, I walked over to find the pesticide that I needed.  I knew the bugs that are eating the leaves.  It took me about 3-4 minutes to look for them.  This was probably the least hassle item I had.


I needed a new box of disposable gloves.  We keep a box in the camper for when it’s time to empty the waste tanks.  I figured they’d be around the cleaning area. Nope.  I figured the next best place would be in the paint section.  Turns out I was right, though it took a couple minutes to get someone’s attention to tell me where exactly they were.

And, as far as being cheaper, these definitely are not.  Next time, I’ll order them from Amazon in advance.  Still, I needed them so away we go.

Light Bulbs

All three of our bathrooms have decorative globe bulbs.  I had a good stash of them, but it started to get depleted.  I wandered over to the light bulb section and looked.  And looked.

Finally, I found the shelf where they would be.  If they would have even had a single bulb.  They were completely out.  Literally three empty shelves, out of stock on every variety from every manufacturer.


Long Story Short

I was late meeting my dad.  The store didn’t have everything I needed.  And, I didn’t feel like I saved any money.  I left feeling annoyed and unsatisfied.  Unfortunately, this is more common than not at these big box stores.

Our little hardware is about one-tenth the size of Lowes.  Yet, I’ve never been let down.  If I would have walked in, someone would have helped me in five minutes.  I could have handed someone the screw, explained what I needed, and would have had the right ones in my hand in probably three minutes.  I know they sell gloves.  They definitely sell light bulbs, and I’d imagine rose pesticide would be there as well.

The small hardware store seems to be fading.  I’d imagine that one day mine will close, as well.  This will be a sad day.  But until then, they’re going to get my business.  If you have the opportunity to support a small hardware store in your area, please do. It’s worth it.  I promise you.

Readers, do you frequent a small hardware store?  Or is it a big box store for you?

16 thoughts on “You Should Pay More To Shop At A Small Hardware Store”

  1. I actually shop both. The reason being, I know the Lowe’s in our town like the back of my hand and rarely need assistance. I also, like you enjoy the service of a small hardware store. We have one I frequent almost as much as Lowe’s.

    • I guess if you’re able to find everything yourself, there’s some benefit, but for people like me that depend on customer service to find what I need, it’s a big drawback at the big box stores.

  2. I go to both but I usually don’t ask for help. The Home Depot has a wider selection of the common things and the staff tries to help but isn’t nearly as helpful or knowledgeable as our local hardware store. I like having both options.

  3. My small hardware store closed a year ago when the guy retired. Half of the stuff was in the back somewhere, but he always seemed to come out with exactly what I needed. I wish another one would open.
    When I do ask for help, I typically regret it. They just put any part in your hand to get rid of you. I usually have to set the part down, and find it myself.

  4. I use both. There is a nice small hardware store about 2 miles from my house. The prices are higher than Lowe’s or HD. Those two store are about a 20 minute ride from where I live. I might save a few bucks driving to the big box store, but it takes more time and gas getting there. The help at the small hardware store seem to be way more knowledgeable. I am definitely going to use my local hardware store more.

  5. Great artical but a sad reality is that with the changing demographic mix, I find that more retail vendors at every level don’t or can’t get knowledgeable staff. I left university jobs were simply non existent so I worked for my hunting companions who were all in the trades so I personally learned a great deal. So now I go to Lowe’s or home depot and rarely find staff that know anything or even care but they do have access codes to their computer system and can search inventory n location within their store or in the area so assisted self serve. …

  6. Home Hardware alone has 1100 independent stores in Canada. Plus we have Pro Hardware and many other independents, lets say 1300 total. So if each independent store has 10,000 customers, that’s 13 million customers. The Canadian population (over age 18) is about 26 million. So 50% of us shop at the local hardware store.
    I will go to Hope Despot or Lowest to buy a 4X4 post, or a piece of lattice, something I need every 2 or 3 years.
    I go to the hardware store weekly or monthly to buy tools, hardware, garden supplies, ice melter, snow shovels, flags, fuses, bulbs,hoses, valves, toasters, Varsol, Windex, WD-40, paint, batteries, paper towels, etc etc
    I think most local hardware store will be around for a long time
    At least until the current generation of owners retires, that’s a story for another day …

  7. I broke down and walked to a tiny incredibly cluttered [owner a hoarder?] local hardware store for some specialty glue. Turned out it glue he sold me had actually expired [confirmed by manufacturer]. Owner gave me a song and dance, but no refund or exchange. Result: I will never shop there again. The little bugger deserves to go out of business. He’ll never sell the business for there really isn’t any.

  8. There’s a small, family-owned hardware in the town near us, and a Home Depot and Menards about 15 miles away. The family-owned hardware has superior customer service by far, but you pay for it in the form of 33-66% higher prices than a big box store or Amazon.

    Usually I go the big box store or Amazon route if I am confident in what I need. But if I’m dealing with a specialty part or am unsure of the replacement part number, I’m willing to pay the “surcharge” for the expertise at the local hardware.

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