Nov 17, 2009, 07:36AM

Busy Bee Hardware - stories from your local neighborhood hardware store

It's completely unaccountable how a blog post about a hardware store can be this entertaining.

I bug Richie Crabb for about a week to talk to me about his hardware store for my "blog." I'd assumed it would be easy: I'd take a few pictures, scrawl out a few stories, and be out of his hair in twenty minutes tops. But every time I come in he's shooting the shit with somebody else and I don't want to interrupt. As I wait for him, lingering in the aisles and watching the employees helping customers I realize that Busy Bee Hardware on the corner of Gratiot and Russell in Detroit really is busy. I've always felt like I was the only customer there, but only because that's how they've always treated me. A steady stream of customers comes in and each of them gets the same friendly treatment. That conversation about fishing started because someone had a question about halogen light bulbs. The guy who needed some rope thimbles ends up talking about his dogs. Conversation is more the nuts and bolts of hardware retail than actual nuts and bolts. The hardware salesman must help solve problems he cannot see; he is a handyman of hypotheses; a surgeon who diagnoses from a distance, sells you the right scalpel and sends you on your way. The hardware salesman translates your need for a thingamadoodle or a whatsamajigger into something you carry away in a brown paper bag; and if you are a professional he must speak your jargon too.


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