Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Christmas at the hardware store December 17, 2020

Ace Hardware in Faribault, photographed at dusk on December 5.

WHEN WE SHOP at the local hardware store, it’s typically to pick up necessities for a home repair. Like last Sunday, Randy ran downtown to Ace to purchase a toilet handle operating system. I can’t even count the number of times he’s replaced this as Faribault’s incredibly hard water corrodes the metal piece inside the tank. My apologies to all you plumbing knowledgeable people for that amateurish explanation. But it’s frustrating. This time Randy opted for plastic.

Ace carries so much more than plumbing and other basic hardware necessities. There’ s a Hallmark card shop inside the store. And a paint center. And everything you need for grilling, including the Big Green Egg, although Randy will never deviate from his charcoal-fired Weber. There are tools and slippers and novelty gift items and…

When I photographed the lot on December 5, there was a wide selection of trees.

If we needed a Christmas tree, we could find that at the hardware store, too. Real trees lined a makeshift tree lot outside the front door when I stopped by on December 5. Currently all live trees, spruce tops, dogwood and porch pots are priced at 50 percent off. While supplies last. And, yes, we’ve been known to wait until just days before Christmas to purchase our tree. Not this year, though. Plus I’ve found my go-to source for Charlie Brown trees at Ken’s Christmas Trees.

The festive Christmas tree lot at Ace offers more than just trees.

As I walked away from Ace Hardware, I paused to photograph the blow-up Nativity scene above the store entry. I’ve seen Santas and snowmen and every other type of outdoor holiday inflatable, but never the Holy Family. How uplifting to view this little family staged there, in a place of honor, as customers hurried in and out of the hardware store.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Christmas at the hardware store”

  1. JanBeek Says:

    Good for Ace! Wouldn’t it be nice if more commercial businesses celebrated the real reason for the season?

  2. Ahhh! Ace Hardware. Memories of many home improvement things, fencing supplies, and the always needed fly strips. The family owned one in Moose Lake got plenty of my business over the years and is always a stop for me when I am home to visit.

    • Oh, fly strips. I grew up with fly strips. One hung in the porch, another over the kitchen table (ick) and elsewhere. A dairy farm attracts lots of flies. This summer we had to buy fly strips as a mouse died somewhere in our basement and Randy was unable to find it. Soon we had flies upstairs. Ick. Where did we go for fly strips? Ace Hardware.

      Thanks for sharing your Ace memories, Paula. As always, it’s good to hear from you.

      • Those darn fly strips are horrible for those of us with long hair!😬

      • I would not like to get one stuck in my hair. I sport a “pandemic pony tail” most days. I haven’t had a haircut in nearly a year. I was due for one about the time COVID arrived in MN and don’t feel comfortable getting my hair cut now. I see lots of other women doing the same. And lots more gray hair. I have no issue with gray hair. I like mine.

      • I hear you on the hair cut thing! I cut my own about late summer. OMG! It actually turned out ok. I have never colored my hair so that hasn’t been an issue although I guess my hair has gotten more grey with all the stress when the hubby mentioned that he noticed more grey recently. I was so impressed he noticed.😂

      • Oh, Paula, I am laughing out loud about “I was so impressed he noticed.” I can relate.

        I thought of cutting my own hair, or asking Randy to do so. But I’m not super confident. Happy to hear your haircut turned out OK.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Our local hardware store has a note taped to the counter:

    “Guys, a signed note from your wife is required before purchasing paint in any color other than white.”

  4. Philip Holum Says:

    That sounds like a fun store! I like the idea of cards and gift sections, and especially the nativity scene. Merry Christmas. Phil/Eagle Bend

  5. We like ACE hardware as well, I like going into a store when the employees can actually help you. Also, I saw a nativity blow up on someone’s porch that included a camel.

  6. Walter Says:

    It catches my eye the pictures of real trees cut for Christmas ornament.
    Synthetic trees of various colors are always used in my country.

  7. Susan Ready Says:

    I love hardware stores especially ones in small towns. You just never know what local treasures you may find. There’s always a wide variety of items and personalized help. At our local store free popcorn is available 24/7.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.