Hardware Store Trip One (Two, Three …)

In last issue’s eZine, Rob told the saga of his recent project that required multiple trips to the hardware store, and wondered if hardware employees “make bets which of their customers will be back and how many times.” The answer from our readers, particularly those who have worked at hardware stores? Yes. Indubitably yes. – Editor

“I used to manage a lumber/hardware store as well as work at one of those ‘big box’ stores. I could always tell when a customer was coming back. I actually won a bet or two with a few customer returns. So don’t take it out too much on the hardware employee; they need a little fun in their life, too.” – Tony Grunch

“Although I am new behind the counter of my local hardware store, I have been a customer there for 40 years. We don’t take bets, but we pretty much know who’ll be back and how many times. Depends on the project, the person and the phase of the moon.” – Sam Slack

“I worked in a hardware store for a few years and the rule was at least three trips to get it right. Thanks for the confirmation.” – David Leitz

“Not sure if your question was rhetorical or not, but the answer is most assuredly “YES!” Hardware folks do make bets about who will be back multiple times in the day. I grew up working at my parents’ hardware store in Massachusetts, and I vividly remember which customers would be in multiple times on a Saturday. The best were the times the husband would get fed up or embarrassed and send his wife for the final trip!” – Rich Lucas

“One day, after a particularly trying plumbing repair to my mother’s ‘older’ home, I asked the salesman if bets were being taken. He said ‘yes,’ especially on plumbing repairs. In my case, it started with a leaky faucet and ended up with re-piping the cold water all the way back to the meter.” – Steven Vaughn

“My neighbor owns the local hardware store and he tells me that they figure that the average weekend electrical job requires the homeowner to make three trips to the store while a plumbing project requires a total of four trips.  And there is usually a return/exchange for a correct part involved.” – Kurt Van Dahm

Some eZine readers also told their tales of their own multiple hardware trips. – Editor

“My trip to the hardware store happened shortly after I moved into my first apartment. I needed a sheet of glass but had not thought to remember the size before I left my apartment (which was only a block away). Being a young man long on confidence and short on skill (brains), I bought a large sheet of glass and a glass cutting tool. What could be so hard about cutting glass? I watched my shop teacher do it, and it looked easy. Later that day, I returned to the hardware store with several large bandages on my hands to get a piece of glass cut to size. The guy at the hardware store couldn’t contain his laughter.” – Alden Snyder

“I measure small home improvement jobs, not in time, but in trips to the hardware store. If, after three trips, I¹ve met with success, I¹m usually happy.” – David Mitchell

“I am relieved that I am not the only ‘true craftsman’ that just loves to visit the hardware store while building a project. I am further encouraged that my trips typically are limited to two for wood related projects. Now plumbing? That’s a minimum of six trips. The ‘plumber guy’ has been on my Christmas card list for some time.” – T. Newman

“A wise hardwarian once told me, ‘Electricians make two trips, plumbers make three.’ I can beat the odds on that with wiring, but not with plumbing. Maybe if plumbing made more use of the table saw…” – Mark Willis

“In my hometown, we had a close, privately owned hardware store. One day when my husband was at work, the garbage disposal clogged up, again. I tore it apart, threw the disposal out in the garage. It hit the wall. I then went to the hardware store and told them what I had done. They called some guy to the counter, told him. He sold me a kit, explained how to do it, and told me to draw and measure what I had left. I did and had the drain completely fixed (without disposal) before my husband came home. They knew us!” – Roberta Moreton

“First off, I live in the country. Second, I am a G.C., a residential general contractor, that is licensed. On my own home/farmstead, and I will attempt to do the plumbing. However, I will not start a repair unless the hardware store is open and I have most of the day to fix the problem. I really don’t like making many trips into town. Nine miles to town and nine back. However, it is not uncommon for me to make three to four trips to get whatever problem I am working on fixed. Most of the people in the hardware store know me on a first name basis. The owner of the store just smiles.” – Neal Schwabauer

“I’ve made multiple trips to the hardware store on multiple occasions buying multiples of things I already had but couldn’t find, thus multiplying the multiple quantities of once-in-a-lifetime usage items in my garage. I’d buy a box of #6 X ¾-inch wood screws, get home and decide that what I really needed were the #8 X 1-inch wood screws which I, of course, did not have enough of either.  I’ve gone to buy a box of widgets that I couldn’t find because in the past I placed them in a special drawer/bin/cubby with confidence that I would know where to find them next time I needed them.  Then, when determining where to store the recently purchased widgets so I could find them the next time I needed them, I’d find where I put the first batch.  So, instead of 9 widgets I now have 18!  I’ve also gone to the store to buy a router bit that I was certain I did not have only to return home to find the exact router bit in my router bit case.  Did I return it?  And endure the humiliation from the guys behind the counter at the woodworker’s store?  Heck no!  So, if you need a 90-degree veining router bit, I’ve got six!” – Larry Schuh

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