I’m a frugal shopper when it comes to shop supplies. But sometimes cost isn’t the issue, but plain old availability: If you need it, you get it wherever you can.
Anyone making reproduction items spends a lot of time searching the Internet and going through catalogs to find accurate hardware, fasteners, finishes and the like. With some things we get lucky, and if a particular item we need hasn’t really changed over the years we can just pick it up at a local Big Box store.
That’s the case with cut copper tacks. What you’ll find today aren’t appreciably different from a hundred or more years ago, and meet my standards just fine. But when I went to a local Big Box, even though they had a huge array of them they didn’t have the size I needed. That was odd, considering that’s where I’d gotten them before. It wasn’t a case of them simply being out, either. There was no empty hook where those tacks should be hanging; the sizes just jumped from a smaller size to the next larger one. No big deal. I didn’t need them in a hurry, so I’d just send away for them.
But on the way home, on a hunch I stopped at our Mom & Pop hardware store, a locally owned franchise of a hardware store chain. Although their fastener section would otherwise be dwarfed by the one at the Big Box store, they had the tacks – in copper – in the exact size I needed. This isn’t the first time this store has come to my rescue – as odd as it is for the Big Box not to have something that would seem quite ordinary to stock, this place on several occasions has, just as oddly, had it.
This hardware store isn’t the first place I go when getting supplies locally. I shop there a lot and know from experience that they’re just not big enough to have what I usually need. But that same experience tells me that at other times, if I can’t find it there’s a good chance they’ll have it.
If I strike out elsewhere, this store is literally the first second place I always check.