I read with sadness in a Sacramento Business Journal article (https://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2021/01/29/east-sac-hardware-closing-permanently.html; paywalled, but there is a not-paywalled article at https://insidesacramento.com/farewell-neighbor/) that East Sac Hardware on Folsom Blvd is closing soon.
I don’t question the business and property owners right to do what they want with the business and property, but the closure is nevertheless a big loss to the community. Locally owned businesses are almost always better in my opinion than national chains. Local stores and staff know their customers, and their customers often know them. Yes, I will admit that big box stores often have lower prices, but despite their huge floor area almost never have a better selection. I’d rather get exactly what I need from a local hardware store than something that sort-of-might-do from a big store.
The biggest losses here are the staff expertise, quantities, and location:
- Expertise: In a local hardware store, the staff almost always knows what you need, or don’t need, and how to install it or use it. Home Depot and Lowe’s, not so. Though I rarely go into these big box national chain stores, when I do, I can’t get good help. Every once in a while I do find someone, but it always turns out they are retired from a real hardware store and just picking up some income and wanting to still serve the public.
- Quantities: Another issue with the big stores is that you can’t buy just what you need. Need a screw or a bolt? They have them in packs of 25 or 50 or 100. In a real hardware store, you can buy just that one screw or bolt.
- Location: Another big issue with the loss of hardware stores is that a person has to drive further and further to the big box store. Fortunately there are still two real hardware stores that I can access, Capitol Hardware on I Street in midtown Sacramento, and Emigh’s Hardware in Arden-Arcade. Emigh’s has expanded and diversified, so will probably survive, but I am concerned for Capitol.
And when was the last time you saw a mural on a big box store?
I believe that local businesses both create and support livability in a community. Big box stores do not. Though their employees may be local, their owners are not, and decisions are made by a corporate headquarters that knows little, and probably cares less, about the local community. Home Depot is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and Lowe’s is headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina, though you’d be hard pressed to find that information on either of their websites.