Reub's journey

25 September 2009

Friday Shoot-Out: My Favorite Place to ________

The idea of the My Town Shoot-Out is to post photos of your local community every Friday. This week's assignment was chosen by Cindy from Alaska. She left it open, and I decided to finish it like this:

My Favorite Place to Buy Nuts and Bolts

All photos shot in Corvallis, Oregon.

I guess it has been over three years now since this town got a big-box hardware store called Lowes. Once we hit 50,000 people, suddenly we were of interest to businesses like that, attracting a huge Safeway, and a K-Mart superstore. That makes a place like Robnett's Hardware, located downtown, with its creaky hardwood floors and serpentine aisles, seem special.

Feeling vulnerable, last year they decided to stay open on Sundays to be competitive with Lowes. Really though, there is no comparison. Robnett's has been in the family for decades, and Lowes can't look the same, sound the same, smell the same, or be the same experience.

Lowes isn't mustard-yellow, but Robnetts is.

Lowes wouldn't even know what this is.

Lowes doesn't stash old Energizer bunnies on top of a not-for-sale refrigerator.

If Lowes has these chains, they don't look so cool.

That goes for the ropes too.

At Robnetts you get the urge to put up a fence, maybe two fences.

I am drawn to the knobs and handles in ways I can't explain.

I really like the Fastener Center....

...because it has about 3 billion little drawers with stuff in them.

There are shelves and shelves of things you probably shouldn't do without, and ladders to reach everything.

In one of the rooms they have this coke machine. It still works! It has cold bottles of Coke in it, but they don't cost 10 cents anymore. You have to ask for assistance--and there is actually someone who will help you.

Did I mention that the exterior is mustard yellow?

by Ronald Wallace

My father always knew the secret
name of everything—
stove bolt and wing nut,
set screw and rasp, ratchet
wrench, band saw, and ball—
peen hammer. He was my
tour guide and translator
through that foreign country
with its short-tempered natives
in their crewcuts and tattoos,
who suffered my incompetence
with gruffness and disgust.
Pay attention, he would say,
and you'll learn a thing or two.

Now it's forty years later,
and I'm packing up his tools
(If you know the proper
names of things you're never
at a loss) tongue-tied, incompetent,
my hands and heart full
of doohickeys and widgets,
whatchamacallits, thingamabobs.

"Hardware" by Ronald Wallace from Time's Fancy. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994.


  1. I REALLY enjoyed visiting you and the way you've shared your post this week!! Love the old cash register, the mustard yellow store....all of this.

    And your dogs...oh...sweetness there.

    Happy Friday :)

  2. I agree with Simply Heather! I too shop at our town's 'old' hardware store, though we now have TWO Lowes. Sigh.
    I serve on a board to keep our historic downtown viable. This post has given me some fresh ideas for an ad campaign.


  3. I love old hardware stores too. One of my favorites was the 'Normal Hardware' in Athens GA. The coolest thing about it was that once they priced something, it remained that price till sold. There were some great buys in that store!

  4. I really love that you captured the "home town" feel in this post.

    Love the knobs and the old coke machine.

    Did your link get dropped from the main FSO page? I don't see it there and would have missed you if you hadn't commented on my post.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the hardware store with you. There is just something about small family owned businesses that are so much better than the giants. When I lived in California we frequented a small hardware store called Floyds. I loved it there. They even sold clothes.

    It is surprising to see the old fashioned cash register and I really like it.

    Great post and I love your original take on the theme. Your last paragraph made me feel sad. I'm assuming that you lost your dad awile back. What an awesome way to remember him and your childhood.

  6. a very special post. I can remember these hardware stores but I haven't been in one in forever. yes they smell of tool, oil and smoke cause the old guys that worked there always smoked.


  7. Love the mom & pop stores that are disappearing right and left in these towns of ours. Love the cash register, and the fastener aisle - very cool!

  8. I loooove it - yellow and all!! I confess I just love the hardware store - big... little don't care. Love to just tootle through them! Wonderful shootout!! Sarah

  9. Kerry, when I was young I dreamed of marrying a girl like you. NUTS AND BOLTS!! Are you sure you're not Terry, or Jerry? I love it.
    And, I enjoyed your post.
    Your link is restored.

  10. Thanks for touring us around your area. Your favorite places. I like the yellow color very much in some of your photos

  11. I recently needed to change a washer in one of our taps. Not having the right sized washer on hand, I needed to drive 5K to Home Depot because our local Hardware has gone out of business.

    What a great tribute to an institution, one now lost in my town.

  12. You did Robnett's Hardware proud with this post! I so hate it when the big stores move into town and shut the homeboys down. We've got that now with our Feed and Seed store. Tractor Supply has moved in almost right accross the street. The old die hards still go to the feed and seed but how long will that last?
    I enjoyed your pictures. Have a grand weekend.

  13. We have the same problem in this new area where I live. The old smaller stores and restaurants are being replaced by the bigger and more sterile places. It is sad, but probably inevitable.

  14. Lovely post and photos, capturing what we are losing so quickly. The old cash register and coke machine are classics, how lovely to see them still in use! I feel touched by your last couple of paragraphs, I feel the same way about my dad.

  15. That brought back so many memories. When I was a kid I loved to hang around the old hardware store. It had bins with nails and screws and fasteners. I loved to run my hands thru them. In the spring they had open barrels of seeds and you scooped them into paper bags. i found all sorts of excuses to wander thru there.

  16. yes! yes! the tiny drawers FULL of...things. i dragged my girls into our local one to look for, um, magnets, i think? and came out with empty paint cans and some sandpaper...just love the wander.

  17. The little shops are the best, and I always have a shiver of excitement when I walk in a hardware store.

    My husband shivers too - from fear of what "project" I am going to undertake.


  18. Cool...I have a fascination with hard ware stores...wish I knew how to make more stuff, and repair more things than I do sometimes...maybe in my former life I was a handyman :)


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