As ever, I like to write about things that make me happy.
There is a hardware store in Royal Oak, on Gardenia and Main, called Frentz and Sons. It's a store that carries all sorts of hardware, modern and obscure, but, more importantly to me, works in an old-school 100% customer service focused way.
To get to it from where I live, I have to drive past one medium hardware chain, and if I go an extra couple of miles, I can have my choice of either Home Depot or Lowe's. However, almost always, my first stop (and usually only stop) is Frentz and Sons. Perhaps if I go to the chain store i might save a couple of pennies - I really don't know and don't care. The Frentz way is certainly worth it.
Example - today I was doing a little work in the house - hanging some coat hooks. As per most anything I go near, it was a wee bit irregular - the pre-drilled holes were ~18.5 inches apart. Anyone who knows anything about hanging these things knows that they should be screwed into studs and not just plaster - wet coats are heavy, and as studs are generally 16 inches apart center-to-center, I was only going to get one screw fixed to a stud. So, not being too savvy in the fixing to plaster worlds, I took meself to Frentz and Sons, and explained what I needed to one of the young guys working there. No problem, in less than a minute I was leaving with what I felt I needed - plasterboard anchors and screws. I headed home, drilled the wall and hammered the anchors in.
Unfortunately, due to my own lack of pre-planning, I did not take into account the thickness of the piece of wood I was fixing to the wall - the stupid screws were too short. So off back to Frentz's again. I was thinking I needed to pull the anchors, and put bigger and longer ones in there - nope. The young guy suggested the blindingly obvious - just use longer screws! I left there with the screws, and only a tiny bit out of pocket due to my error. And the coat hooks are now up.
You see, had I went to one of the other more well known hardware stores, I would have ended up winging it and buying pre-packaged screws. I doubt if I would have got the advice I got from Frentz, nor the feeling that I am supporting a small local business - to me, that's pretty important in this day of mega-stores - small businesses made Royal Oak what it is; unfortunately, this is changing, but I for sure hope that Frentz & Sons stays around. They will for sure, get my support.
There is something to be said for being able to walk into a store, explain what you are looking for, get asked the right questions and walk out with what you need - as many times, I had no clue what I needed on the way in.
And, they don't make you feel like an idiot for not being a fully qualified contractor.