Low morning sunlight streams across the ancient bricks of Market Street and the lights are on at Smith Feed and Seed, the local Trust Worthy Hardware store. I’m smiling because I love to find these places surviving, even thriving, in longstanding locations on small town downtown streets. Seems to me they are the last bastions of an old-style manliness that’s pretty much been lost – sweet remnants of the days when girls were girls and men were men.
Lowes, Home Depot and Menards start taking out these little operations as soon as they move into range. It’s a pretty big range, too, cause folks nowdays will drive a long ways to "save money" at one of those cookie cutter big boxes that are more girly than manly, more about the show of redecorating than hardware and tools.
It’s a progression that’s not surprising, seeing how the growing market is a younger generation with money to spend, eager to line fancy garages with all the lastest power toys of home improvement they’ve seen slicing through a board or being swung about in home redo shows on tv. Those expensive tools sure look nice in that decked-out "workshop" and might even see some use before a contractor who actually knows how to swing a hammer is called in to get the job done.
Old hardware stores are different – decidedly distinctive places born from the dream of an independent businessman and built over the years through the loyal patronage of local working men. These were guys who invested in a few simple quality tools and used the heck out of them for the rest of their lives. They were men who made the decisions at home, who fixed things that needed fixing, who cared more for the way things really were than how they "looked" to other people, who made modest improvements when they were called for, but who weren’t about to be trapped in the spiral of constant renovations to keep up with the latest styles their wives had seen somewhere. Those men felt at home in the hardware store. Solid, strong, dependable, hardworking, no-nonsense kind of guys like my dad. Seems like we just turned around and most of the men of that generation were gone. And how I want them back. The world doesn’t work so well without them.
So that’s why I shoot these places whenever I find them, that’s what they represent to me. Long may their aisles be full of old hardware smells, long may their bins and barrels be full of nails, long may the battered wooden counters be leaned on by old guys telling stories, and may those stories never end.
Tagged: , Honey Grove , Fannin County , Texas , small , town , downtown , business , district , hardware , feed , seed , store , Smith Feed and Seed , Trust Worthy Hardware , brick , street , old , building , ©shariharvey