Beware the Aisles of Merch


Recently, Best Made Co. in New York, they of the high-end outdoor gear, did a search for the great American hardware store. Our local shrine to tool shops from a bygone era made the cut and the catalog cover. And I am here, friend, to spread the Good News about Kraftco.

Kraftco is one of those labyrinthine stores over which one must develop and demonstrate mastery. Through this process one acquires not only useful tools and fasteners but, more importantly, a sense of accomplishment.

When you are new there, you do not go looking for things. You ask where they are. Then the man behind the counter will nod sagely, say he's pretty sure they've still got 12-gauge Romex with ground in stock, and he will grab a map, a torch, and a crumbling copy of the Necronomicon ex Mortis. Do not allow him to get more than three steps ahead if you value your life or those molly bolts you're looking for.

Last year they caused a local uproar by bringing in computers to handle sales and inventory. People felt betrayed.

My favorite Kraftco story centers around my dear friend Claire, who went shopping there one day and walked up to the counter with a big tub of boric acid and a machete. They really do have everything.

Anyway, the old-timer behind the counter eyeballed her purchases and said "So. Whatchoo gonna do with all this?"

Claire, who is possibly 5'4" in heels and who I would not mess with for love or money, looked our man dead in the eye and said, and I'm quoting here, "There's going to be a reckoning."

He said not another word, just nodded and rang her up, then dutifully followed her to the parking lot to take down her license plate.

Down here we call that full service.