I like shopping at Ace Hardware. The term "shopping" may not seem to match what goes on in a hardware store—men don't say, "I'm going shopping," when they run out for a box of nails or a light switch. But I go shopping at Ace Hardware.
When I walk in to this very male environment, often the only female in the place, some nice older gentleman always greets me at the door and says something like, "Well hello, young lady. What can I help you find today?" And I love him instantly. I always tell him what it is I need, but honestly I'd rather roam the aisles and find it myself. I find a certain sense of accomplishment when I walk around the maze of things I have no name for and manage to find that one bolt that is just the right length or that one paint brush I need for a project. I make my way through the store and proudly think to myself, "I am my father's daughter." And then I think, "Look at all this great stuff, whatever it is! I want to build something! Where's my hammer!"
I am as comfortable strolling around Ace Hardware as I am when shopping at JoAnn Fabrics, and in some way even more so. At JoAnns, I get the one thing I need, like a button or some interesting paper for a card I want to make, and I look at all the ghastly, kitschy stuff and wonder who buys this crap and what must their house look like. But at Ace, even if I don't know what the thing is on the shelf beside the length of pipe, I know it serves a purpose, and I'm certain it will never be incorporated into a tacky wreath on someone's front door.
Today, I went to Ace Hardware for two things—a can of glossy black spray paint for some easels I've decided need sprucing up and a wing nut to replace one missing from one of those easels. The older gentlemen were busy this morning, so I finally got my wish, to find my own stuff, to go shopping at Ace Hardware. I got the paint right away and then found that wonderful, amazing, delicious aisle full of little plastic drawers, each holding a different bolt or nut or washer. You open them to find they're divided into tiny compartments full of little things to pick up and admire.
I thought logically and found the wing nuts and chose the one that matched the spare I had in my pocket. And then I saw a drawer full of things for turning on a ceiling light, you know the kind with the long pull chain. We need one of those for a light in the basement, I discovered the other day—I don't think standing a ladder underneath the light is the proper solution—so I picked up a chain.
Back to the register—as pleased as I was with myself, I forgot one thing. When you take something from one of those drawers, you're supposed to make note of the price and tell the friendly guy up front, but I forgot to do that, so we had to retrace my steps.
Well, now I know. Be bold. Read the signs. Get the price. And most important, go shopping at Ace Hardware.