Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Times They Are A-changin': Hardware Stores

I promise that I will stop this indulgent wallowing in the Remembrance of Things Past, at least for a little while, but we do need to address the topic of Hardware Stores. Or, at least, one hardware store.

When we moved to Grosse Pointe, over 40 years ago, Damman Hardware was situated somewhere around the spot which is now CVS. When Kresge’s moved from the corner of St. Clair and Kercheval, Dammans moved into the vacant building. I always had a soft spot for Dammans, because it appears that Archie Damman built our house back in 1929, but he lost it in the Depression. Over the years we frequented Dammans: it wasn’t quite the neighborhood hardware store with barrels of nails and screws, dusty tools and spare parts for long-extinct equipment, but it was staffed by elderly men in red vests who could be counted on to give us a tip about downspouts and washers or paint and wallpaper strippers. Eventually Jacobsons closed down their store for the home next door and Dammans annexed the site. The additional space meant they could add a few fancy odds and ends, but it was still the placed to go for the basics of home repair and remodeling.

A couple of years ago, everything changed. Dammans became Ace and the store was no longer staffed by knowledgeable elderly men, but by teenagers and corporate-looking employees muttering into their headphones. I was in the store a few weeks ago and saw a flurry of activity. There were display racks where the cookie sheets and casserole dishes had been, vignettes were being created, attractive plates were on display and silver twinkled. The hardware store took on a distinct museum quality. It is even fancier now with the Christmas wares on display, but I have yet to get my new camera, so you’ll have to do with the photos from a few weeks ago. I’m not altogether sorry about the makeover— we are so far from Somerset with its Crate and Barrel and Williams-Sonoma that I welcome this tempting merchandise. But if you look carefully at the mobile island with the butcher-block top in the last photo, you will see a price tag of $1,879. At a hardware store!

We’ve come a long way from barrels of nails.

1 comment:

candyschultz said...

That is definitely not a hardware store anymore. And good god the counter could be made with an old table and a purchased piece of butcher block for a fraction of the cost of that one. You should come by our antique store. Our prices are way better than that.