Skip to main content

What ever happened to Homer?

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Not too long ago, I was trying to buy some beadboard at a local "Superstore". We could have ordered it from our usual supplier but we would have preferred not to have to wait. So we asked an orange vest if they had any.

He looked at me as if I had three lips so I described what beadboard was. His light went on and he took me over to where they had their sheet goods and pointed to a stack of embossed 1/4" MDF. I explained that we wanted the kind that was made of actual wood and told him that it usually came in bundles. He informed me that "they don't make that stuff anymore".

When I told him he was mistaken, he went and got a "supervisor" who insisted that this was no longer available. Pretty soon there were no fewer than four orange vests all telling me that I was living in the past. They ware all rude and treated me like I was so, you know, like, old and out of touch with the modern world.

This got me thinking about how much we are losing as these huge retailers take over and push the smaller local businesses out. We used to have a really great old hardware store in town that had been there since the late 1800's. There was this guy named Homer who was in his eighties and had worked there since he was 16. You could go into that store and tell Homer that you needed "one of those little metal things with the rubber do-hickey on the end and a hole in it for a bolt" and Homer would ask "What size?" Then he would wander off into the dark recesses of the back room or the basement and come back in a few minutes with exactly what you were looking for.

That store is closed now, replaced by several new "Hardware Superstores", brightly lit with no dark recesses and no Homer. I can pick out an employee at random, describe exactly what I am looking for using precise nomenclature and sizing information and, more often than not, be met with one of the following responses:

"Sorry, they don't make those anymore" … "Huh?" … (or most infuriating of all) "What do you want that for?"

When I was living in Nevada, there was one of those great old hardware stores in Carson City called Meyers Hardware. It had 20 foot ceilings with shelves all the way up, those rolling ladders to get to the high shelves, creaky old wooden floors, slow moving ceiling fans and everything under the sun in stock. I used to be able to go there and get matching doorknobs and cabinet pulls for hundred-year-old houses I was working on, right off the shelf. They still had vacuum coffee makers "in stock". But now, I guess they just don't make those anymore ...


Related Articles