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Feeling guilty

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The Big Box stores are here to stay, while corner hardware stores disappear. That’s just the way it is. I’m not happy about it, but I’m helping it happen. So are you.

A decades-old hardware store near me closed recently when the owner – the last of the family interested in running it – passed away. The store was all but closed anyway, with almost no clientele to speak of. Still, it was a neat old place to go with its wood floors, metal bins and items like shovels hanging on the wall. But I never went there to buy anything.

I have another small hardware store by me – a chain store, though, not a Mom-and-Pop – that I go to occasionally when I need something the Big Box stores don’t have, like slotted steel screws. But to be honest, that’s the only time I go there.

The fact is that for everything else I need, it’s much cheaper at either the Big Boxes or at one of the ubiquitous Wal-Marts. A simple item – trash bags, say – can easily cost twice as much at a local hardware store as they do at Wal-Mart, Lowe’s or Home Depot. And the further fact is that as much as I want the local stores to do well, I just can’t afford to shop there. And if you’re honest with yourself, few regular people can.

You go to local outlets that charge more when you need something only they have. When I need those screws I go to mine because the Big Boxes don’t have them, or when you need 200 bf of cherry you go to whatever supplier you have because the Big Boxes don’t have that either. Sure, if you need something in a really big hurry, or if the weather is bad, or you’re on the wrong side of town, maybe you’ll stop in the local store and pay double for those trash bags. But otherwise you’d don’t. It’s impractical and economically foolish to do so.

And that’s just the way it is. I’ll mourn when all the little Mom-and-Pop stores are gone, but it’s the natural course of events. Just like carriage shops and other anachronisms, they’ll become a nostalgic part of our past. It’s perfectly natural for this to happen, because it’s happened with hundreds upon hundreds of other things. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

Or feel less guilty about it.

Till next time,


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