A shout out for the independent stores

A few recent projects (posts to come, hopefully less than a year from now) have reminded me how much I really appreciate the independent shops and stores as a maker. Last year I began working on a project I called the Data Semi Cube, which required a number of smaller screws and bolts. I was running errands to one of the big hardware stores anyway, so I thought I would double up and grab those components while I was there. Unfortunately, when I got there I found that they not only didn’t have the big stuff I originally planned to grab but they also had a pretty terrible selection of small nuts and bolts as well. I was looking for M4 machine screws with matching washers and nuts. Luckily, I grew up in a small town that had a local Ace hardware store and thought to start calling around, asking if they had what I needed. The first few were more target towards home and garden and didn’t but the third was a jackpot. It turned out to have the largest selection of nuts and bolts I had ever seen. Drawers for an entire aisle, floor to ceiling, well over my head and out of reach without a stool.

Fredericksen Hardware & Paint
3029 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

Earlier this year we had a fluorescent bulb go out in our apartment. As before, my default reaction was “home goods, let’s check the big box stores” and found that neither the nearby Lowes nor the Home Depot had this type or size bulb. So I turned to Amazon and found a few but the descriptions were somewhat sketchy, so I wasn’t comfortable spending cash on something that might be incorrect and then also a pain to dispose of. So I started calling around to local Ace locations, and first try I found one that had what I needed. When I went in, the staff were super helpful, pulling the bulbs out of their packaging to confirm they were exactly what I needed, and even offering to take my burned out ones and dispose of them properly for me. On top of that, the price was a bit lower than the ones I found on Amazon.

Handy Handyman Hardware
2075 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Learning from my previous lessons, when I needed some hardware for my most recent project, I skipped even trying to look on Amazon and the big stores and went straight to find my nearest Ace location. This one was walking distance from work, which meant I could get some fresh air and didn’t feel the need to call ahead. When I got inside, I found they had a downstairs that was much longer than the upstairs and had a selection of parts that rivaled the place I had been to the year before. Again, everyone who worked there was super helpful, quick to lend a hand and help me find what I needed, and I ended up walking out with parts I didn’t think they would carry but fit my project even better.

Cole Hardware
70 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103