Bob's Hardware

What happened to Bob's Hardware? It closed. A Lowe's and a Home Depot opened not far away, and little by little, Bob had to struggle to advertise his store, focusing mainly on paying his employees and paying taxes. Then he had to lay off a few stock clerks. When they put meters in front of Bob's store, his customers either went to suburban stores where they could park or just ordered tools on-line. Some of those hard-to-find items you can even buy on-line. For that matter, you can empty your own basement, sell all kinds of stuff you never use and make money on E-bay.

Bob's celebrated his fiftieth anniversary with an enormous "customer appreciation" sale. Some customers who remembered Bob's dad came by to congratulate him. But a lot of the old-timers had either moved away, or were no longer buying snow shovels and brooms and gardening tools. People would come in and buy a small item or two, but the big ticket items were purchased from Home Depot. Not only were their prices cheaper, but they now manufactured many of their own products, and these were cheaper still. After all, who really can afford to pay full price? Bob finally had to let his last salesperson go, and cut down store hours. He struggled along, not wanting to see the demise of the long-respected family business...but when the shoe store next door closed and was walled up for construction, and his taxes went up, and his daughter and her husband moved to Italy, and it seemed as if he had only one or two sales per day, he made the inevitable decision to close. Bob's Hardware...proud occupant of Main Street for 51 years. The bars are permanently down, and who knows when or if they'll ever go up again.


I use Safety Harbor Hardware rather than Home Depot.
I use my locally owned service station for oil changes and stuff not covered by warranty and I get petrol there too, it may be pennies more, but they have mechanics full time.

I go to a locally owned Mexican restaurant, Mexico Grande, rather than Taco Bell.
I use Inkwood Books rather than amazon to order books. Inkwood has free cookies when you go in, and who can browse at amazon. I may spend ~$50 more/year but Carla and the staff sure beat the UPS man when it comes to information about books. Inkwood can order anything and have it in a few days just like amazon. I also eschew B&N, Borders and the like.

I use the local fruit stand for my fruits and veg. Fruiteria 3 Hermanos is just fine for me and the prices are better than the grocery store. I can also pick out my produce and fruits rather than having them entombed in plastic wrap.
I use the local shoe repair guy, the local barber, and the bakery. The Bakery Pasteleria Gonzalez makes fantastic rolls and delightful pastries and cakes with names I can't remember much less pronounce. Who wants white bread in a plastic tube when you can have good crusty bread in a paper bag. What I don't eat soon enough goes to feed the birds(near my crabby neighbor's car).

Now sure, I buy my undershorts at Wal*Mart, I get the occasional screw at Home Depot ( stop that you pervs) but for big things like washers and refrigerators I use local established merchants. Apsco appliance, Tampa Vacuum, Jersey Jim Towers TV, places that employ local people.

Why do I do this, because I am selfish. I want people to remember me and make a point to serve me. I can drop my car at night and pick it up in the morning after having the oil changed at Highland Amoco. Jiffy Lube won't allow that. They also are going to get in the replacement tires I want and install them. It will cost ~ 20 bucks more than the warehouse store, but it will be done when I want it to, and they are within walking distance of the house.
When I wanted long bread baked for giant sandwiches Pasteleria Gonzalez was happy to do it much cheaper than I could have gotten them at subway. Jim's meat market was just the place to get cold cuts for the sandwiches too.

When I needed a filter for the shopvac Safety Harbor hardware didn't have them but he made a few calls and it arrived the next day, I picked it up on my way to return library books. I got a free fridge magnet too.

The best part however is that I have helped people in their businesses, Mr. Singletary who owns Sergeant's appliance repair honks and waves when he sees me on the road, the guys from Fruiteria 3 Hermanos gave a friend of mine a job -without even meeting him- because I mentioned he would be a good fit for a position they had posted in their window. We are not just merchant and customer we trust each other. I would not recommend my friend to them if he would not do a good job and they know that. They always sell good fruits and veg at a good price and I know that.

This may cost me .... I don't know $500 more per year than if I did all my shopping at the warehouses, super stores, chains, and big groceries. Is it worth it? You bet. Not only do I get what I need, I get friends. We can all by with a little help from our friends. Look at the difference a buck thirty-six a day can make.

Thank Mac, for seeing the forest for the trees. Cost is not always from one's own pocket, and it's not always a question of hard currency. It costs all of us when we abandon our local merchants. I hope enough people see it before it's too late. And say hi to Carla Jiminez for me.

I use Hectors Hardware rather than Home Depot, when I can.
I get gas on the Reservation, I go to a locally owned Mexican restaurant, Mighty Taco, rather than Taco Bell.
I use the library rather than amazon to order books. It's rare that I've bought anything recently, but I do use Amazon for other things.
I use the smaller stores, in every case, whenever I can. I almost always avoid Wal Mart.
Why do I do this? I suppose for the same reasons, I want people to remember me and make a point to serve me. I like to be able to walk to places if possible, that rules out a lot of the big box retailers, luckily. I too like to feel like I have helped people in their businesses. I don't have a relationship with anyone I shop with, but for those people I do know that own a business I always try to use them when I can, without asking for a discount. Am I really making a difference? I'd love to take it a step further and buy only things made in America, but that's almost never an option. When I have a choice between 3 different widgets, all three are almost always made elsewhere. "Buy American" isn't even an option for the most part when I go shopping, so the only thing I can do is choose where I shop.
I think the biggest reason I go to the small stores is it's almost always faster, and I've rarely found it to be more expensive.

I love Mighty Taco! We used to go to the one on Deleware and the one in Depew.

I also love Teds.

And I miss the Broadway Market. That was a place to shop for food! Where else can you get duck blood soup.

Glad to hear it. Are you making a difference? I don't honestly know, because it is a cumulative thing, and most people are seeking "easiest" and "cheapest" without considering their buying actions. Of course it's the same philosophy that many people apply to voting..."what does my one little vote count for?"
I fear particularly for the independent bookstores.

Here's a link that might be of interest:

American Independent Business>

and here's another Institute for Local Self-Reliance>