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Do you ever go on vacation and feel the need to see the local hardware store in the town you’re visiting? While some people may not understand this urge, the staff at the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) shares your interest and does the same thing!
Hardware Retailing chose 10 interesting and unique stores in the U.S. and Canada to add to your hardware bucket list. If your store isn’t on this list and you think it should be, let us know. Contact profiles editor Renee Changnon at email@example.com or 317-275-9442 so we can sing your praises as well.
1. Placerville Hardware
In the 1800s, thousands of people migrated to California in hopes of striking gold, and Placerville Hardware was there to meet those fortune-finders’ needs. The clientele has changed since its early years, but the original wooden floors, sliding ladders and slotted wooden counters, which were used to accept gold dust as payment, are a living example of Wild West history. Visitors often stop in to learn the history of the business, which is considered the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi.
2. Hartville Hardware & Lumber
This family-owned and -operated business is considered the largest independent hardware store in the U.S., featuring more than seven acres of retail space. Hartville Hardware sells hardware and gifts and even has a one-of-a-kind 1,850-square-foot Idea House inside the Kitchen & Bath Design Center. The Idea House features a variety of kitchen and bath inspiration pieces. In addition to the home center, the business operates a collectibles shop, a full-service restaurant and a marketplace and flea market on the premises.
3. Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House is a little different than many home improvement stores—it also features an on-site bar and restaurant. The business opened in 2010, offering a combination of beer on tap and tools at the ready, inspiring the nickname “The Screw and Brew.” The owner got the idea from a combination hardware store and pub in Ireland, called Foxy John’s Pub. The staff does double duty in the business, either serving drinks and appetizers or helping a customer find an item.
4. Cowls Building Supply
Cowls Building Supply has been a family-owned and -operated business since 1741, predating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This lumber and building materials business has three centuries of experience and has remained in the same location since it was founded. The family purchased several timberlands, winning awards for sustainability and forest stewardship. Today, the ninth generation of owners continues that legacy, offering many products and services and setting goals for sustainable forestry and land conservation.
5. Van Tuyl & Fairbank Heavy Hardware
Petrolia, Ontario, Canada
Van Tuyl & Fairbank Heavy Hardware has been in existence since 1865, yet the operation is always looking for ways to stay current and unique. In 2010, the store installed solar panels on the roof to seek alternative energy opportunities. Artwork is also a passion that the company has embraced. You can even see an installation on the roof of a traditional horse carriage being pulled, which represents the early years of the business.
6. Tupelo Hardware
Before he was a household name, Elvis Presley went with his mother to Tupelo Hardware, hoping to get a rifle for his 11th birthday. When his mother said no, he picked up his first guitar, and the King was born. The store welcomes Elvis fans on a regular basis, as tourists stop in when they visit the King’s hometown. They even sell memorabilia, like guitar picks, harmonicas, guitars, T-shirts and hats. In addition to its place in pop culture, the business has been open for more than 90 years, specializing in mill and industrial supply, small engine parts and hardware.
7. Sullivan Hardware & Garden Center
Located near NRHA headquarters, Sullivan Hardware has three locations that inspire customers to take home improvement to the next level. The Indianapolis Keystone location has a large garden center with nearly every plant imaginable, plus the Yellow House, which sells gifts and home accents inside an early 1900s farmhouse. Recently, the store added Sully’s Grill off the garden center to host cooking classes, events and private parties. Attendees learn how to make their favorite meals on a Big Green Egg or Weber Grill.
8. Kelloggs & Lawrence
Katonah, New York
Kelloggs & Lawrence opened as a hardware business in 1887 and has been housed in the same charming Victorian building since 1895. The previous owners had remodeled the business in the 1960s, stripping it of its historical interior and adding tiles. When the new owners bought the business in 1996, they decided to restore it. Once again, the store has a traditional wooden display that runs floor to ceiling, wooden counters and floors. While the business has a rustic charm of 19th-century hardware, its product offerings are modern and fit the needs of the 21st century. Customers can find outerwear, gifts and more.
9. Island Home + Garden
Gabriola, British Columbia, Canada
This modern store has all the items a homeowner or traveler could need. Located on Gabriola Island off Vancouver, locals visit Island Home + Garden to shop and find what they need without having to leave the island. In addition to a full-line garden and hardware selections, the store carries a wide variety of appliances. To entice locals to stay on the island to purchase new appliances, Island Home + Garden price matches big-box stores and offers free delivery of new appliances and pickup of old appliances from island residents. The store serves locals all year long and thousands of vacationers in the summer months.
10. Cliff’s Variety
Cliff’s Variety has been in the San Francisco area since 1936. It began as a variety store and expanded its offerings into hardware in the early years. The family-owned and -operated business has evolved to meet the needs of its shifting customer demographics over the years. Its unique window displays invite both locals and tourists to walk in, where they will find items most hardware stores carry, like paint and sundries, housewares and hardware. However, it is also known for its quirky variety of products as well. Customers can find children’s toys, adult Halloween costumes, wigs, gag gifts, fabrics and much more.