Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

There’s something about a hardware store May 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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PICTURE A SMALL TOWN hardware store and what image comes to mind?

Mine: Narrow aisles, wood floors, loose bolts and nails tucked into cubbies along the wall, and rolls of coiled, perforated caps for cap guns.

That was the 1960s.

Today most hardware stores don’t sell in bulk. Everything’s pre-packaged. I doubt you’ll find caps for a cap gun or wood floors either.

Jerry's ACE Hardware in the small town of Kenyon, Minnesota.

Jerry’s ACE Hardware in the small town of Kenyon (not Faribault), Minnesota.

Yet, the hardware store remains a small town staple, the go-to place for plumbing supplies, mouse traps, paint, other basic essentials of home repair and more.

I live in a community of nearly 25,000, no small town by my definition. Faribault has two hardware stores, one of them, ACE, in the downtown area. The place is busy, always busy. It’s not because prices are low. Rather it’s because of the service.

From the moment you walk in the door, an employee is there to answer your questions, lead you to whatever it is you need. And that worker sticks around until he/she is certain you have what you need. These folks are, for the most part, knowledgeable.

You can’t beat great customer service.

And then there’s that help-yourself-to-a-bag-of-popcorn popcorn machine…

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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13 Responses to “There’s something about a hardware store”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    Our ACE Hardware in Red Wing is the very same – service service service. If I am running short on time I know I can swing by and get what I need; then get back on my way fast. Do you recall Coast to Coast Hardware, a defunct chain of American hardware stores, now part of True Value?

    • That must be one of ACE’s priorities, great customer service. I wish every business followed that model. It works. Our Faribault ACE is always busy.

      Yes, I do remember Coast to Coast Hardware. As I recall, service there was great, too.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Yum, the popcorn would be the draw for me, no doubt about it. I do love to wander through hardware stores like that—-you never know what you will find!

  3. DeLores Says:

    Good Morning, Audrey,

    This brought me back to Haat’s Hardware in Echo. What a fun place to go! They
    had everything from knick knacks to furniture, nails to brooms. It seemed like
    whatever you wanted they had it. Ed and Muriel were right there to help with whatever
    they could do for their customers.

    DeLores

    • Oh, yes, I remember Haat’s Hardware. One year my oldest brother and I bought miniature plastic angels there for our mom for Christmas. Today I have those angels.

      And one year we siblings bought gold drinking glasses for Mom, for Mother’s Day, at Marquardt Hardware in Vesta. Today I have, and use, those vintage glasses.

      Oh, the memories of the old-fashioned hardware store…

  4. I love the local hardware store, especially the assistance and customer service. I am always amazed what I can find when exploring in a hardware store. Happy Thursday 🙂

  5. Jackie Says:

    I agree, love the customer service at Ace, always friendly and knowledgable! No popcorn machine here in Rochester, your store must be extra special 🙂

  6. Ted Aaberg Says:

    Out here in Harvard Square we have a True Value called Dicksons. Still has wood, squeeky floors. Can buy a bolt at a time, caste Iron skillet, snow shovel, or full length mirror which are popular for incoming female coeds, male coeds buy many of the lawn chairs. Polly, who just retired, in her 80s, is a marvel. She knows almost every customer by name, has memorized many of the upc codes; on her last day owner had her picked up in a limo, which was fun for all to see. She originally came from Grosse Pointe, MI about 40 years ago, raised a family, and really made a life for herself.

    Growing up in Scarville, Iowa, I went to Lande’s Hardware in Lake Mills. It was a paradise. Dad bought my baseball mitt there, nails to build a ladder to climb the apple tree, and my blue confirmation suit. Lande’s had three suits all solid colors: Black, Blue, and Brown. Dad wanted me dressed in black, but mom insisted on the blue, to match my eyes. Dad usually got his way, but not on this one, mom held forth, in a gentle persuasive way, and I think Dad ended up happy in the end as well. At least everyone was excited on the ride home.


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