I am not a do-it-yourselfer. I’ve never really had to fix a toilet, cut wood, or even paint a wall. My husband has always done those chores, and he enjoys being a “handy man.” If he can save money and time by doing it himself, he’s happy. It stands to reason that he’d be sad that his favorite fix-it store is closing. But, surprisingly, I’m unhappy, too.
Our Orchard store was always neat-as-a-pin. Every aisle was clearly labeled, so you could find items easily and quickly. If you couldn’t, there was always someone nearby who could help you find what you were looking for. I can’t say that about the two big home improvement stores. You know who I’m talking about.
Whenever I go to those places (never alone; always with my husband), finding a sales clerk is like a Where’s Waldo competition. They’re huge stores, with few workers, so you end up walking from corner to corner before you find someone in those orange or blue aprons. Put your step tracker on when you go; you’ll have your 10,000 steps in no time.
When you do find that clerk in the big stores, inevitably he or she says, “This isn’t my department. Let me call someone for you.” And then you wait some more, standing on concrete, because benches and chairs in hardware stores are only seasonal; like, in patio furniture.
Orchard was different. For one thing, it wasn’t the size of multiple barns. You could walk the area without taking a breather halfway through. For another, and some of you might laugh, it was woman-friendly. I know many of you will agree. Those big stores are geared toward the contractors, and the weekend warriors. The people who know how to use large shop tools with grace and precision. They aren’t as user-friendly for a person who barely knows the difference between a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips head.
Once Orchard is gone in November, I will be forced to go either to the two big stores, or one other mom-and-pop store that’s also been around forever. It’s not bad, but the clerks there are the wannabe big store type. The ones who can’t be bothered with a woman looking for ceiling fan accessories, or the best silver polish. I guess I’m supposed to go to a grocery store for those things, even though hardware stores often have a better variety.
I won’t, though. I’ll take my cluelessness to the remaining stores and muddle through. If they are going to muscle out the little stores in their business, then they’ll have to learn how to deal with the inexperienced shopper. And I ask a lot of questions.
I’m sorry to see Orchard go. It’s the end of an era. The era of the gentleman’s (and gentlewoman’s) hardware store. I’ll miss you.
Were you an Orchard shopper? Where will you go now?