I have a secret passion for hardware stores. I’m not a carpenter, electrician or plumber (save the ‘crack’ jokes). I don’t know how to change the oil on a car or repair a leaky roof. I can barely figure out the circuit breakers in our house and don’t bother telling me to pass you the ‘Phillips’ screwdriver – just say the screwdriver with the star.
So when I recently wrote about my ‘adventures’ with a spider and my hair dryer (check out ‘Karma, Irony and Guilt – Lessons From a Spider'), my very good friend, romantic suspense writer Rosalind Villers (www.rosalindvillers.com), was quick to give me some valuable advice. I like her, she knows stuff, and she writes a mean bit of prose; of course I was gonna do what she says!
She recommended the Bug Trapper, a nifty gadget perfect for catching all little things creepy- crawly. Although I’m sure it can be found via many other outlets, she was quick to recommend Lee Valley Hardware.
Well, given my penchant for hardware stores my excitement and curiosity mounted. Not only was I going to get the gadget that would ‘change my life’ (her words), but I could also check out this renowned hardware store I had often heard about but had never been lucky enough to go to!
The store was off my regular well-beaten path, but after a few wrong turns I found it. It was during one of my typically busy Saturday afternoons, but I was on a quest – I had to get this gadget! I was determined to find the store, no matter how busy I was. My car was full of frozen food and meat from a whirlwind grocery shopping spree but since I was ‘only going to be a minute’ I figured everything would be fine (which, in the end, everything WAS – no one died of botulism or salmonella or whatever) (not yet, at least).
Now before I go on I must insist that my story here is in NO way criticizing the store or how it does business. In fact, how they do business was quite ingenious. The store was clean, neat, usual-hardware-store-smell-free, and rather…ritzy for a hardware store. The store clerks were beyond knowledgeable and polite and I will, most definitely, go back again.
Moving right along…
Finally finding the store, I pulled-up to the newly built store and….scratched my head. It was too fancy and too small to be a hardware store – at least to be the kind of hardware store I was used to. But seeing as I was on a quest for something that would ‘change my life,’ I had no time to spare. Dawdling and pondering about the appearance of a store was not on my schedule.
A few steps in I stopped short. Wall-to-wall carpeting, spa-like music in the background along with fancy wooden shelving and display racks made my shopping experience in a ‘hardware store’ a little….confusing. This was not a ‘hardware store’ but a retreat for those needing a getaway from the usual grime and oil-slick of other hardware stores.
Whatever, I shrugged. Ros must only shop at the uber-fancy-hardware stores, I realized. Just when you think you know a person…
But I had no time to spare – food was in the car. I pushed my friend and her champagne-taste in hardware stores out of my head and went in search of the Bug Trapper. But as hard as I tried I couldn’t find it, which was understandable given the fancy store I was clearly unaccustomed to.
The store clerk I asked for assistance was beyond friendly and helpful. She knew exactly what I was looking for and led me to a little wall of gadgets. The first bug catcher she showed me was 4 times what I was willing to pay. No bug is worth more than my hourly wage (well…maybe). The next bug catcher – the exact one Ros showed me – matched the contents of my wallet.
“I’ll take it!” I announced and went to grab the gadget. This was easier than I thought!
“Oh no…” she started, and pointed to a code on the tag. “You’ll need this code.”
She then went on to explain that the store is kind of a like a mail order/warehouse store and then she showed me an order form. At first I didn’t understand. Would I have to ‘order’ the item and wait for it to come in the mail? My excitement deflated – I would have to spend another night in my home vulnerable, unarmed and defenceless.
Seeing my confusion the nice clerk reassured me I WOULD get to go home with my gadget. She explained that I had to first fill out a form then take it to the counter where a staff-person would retrieve the item from the warehouse in ‘the back.’
I looked at my watch. Damn that Ros, I cursed my friend. What had she gotten me into? (No wonder she’s such a good suspense writer – she had sure kept ME in suspense of what I was really getting myself into!)
After ensuring I was okay and understood what to do, the very kind store clerk left me to my own devices and assured me she would be ‘right over there’ (by the scary looking soil and compost thermometers). Using a cute little golf pencil (of which I wish accidentally rolled into my purse) I filled out the form. By then I had my bearings and understood what the store was all about. I wish I had more time to browse but with the threat of the meat frying itself in the warm car, I had to hustle.
Presenting my form at the counter another equally nice clerk went in ‘the back’ to retrieve my Bug Trapper. Before I could truly enjoy the beauty of a copper slug belt (another ingenious gadget) beside me on the counter, she returned with a little box.
“Is that the Bug Trapper?” It seemed too small compared to what the first store clerk had shown me.
“Oh yes, my dear, here…” She opened the box. Oh, my shoulders slumped. I would have to put it together. “It’s from England,” she continued. “It’s quite extraordinary, actually.” Her serious tone had me second-guessing the hilarity of what I was really buying. This Bug Trapper was no laughing matter.
With manners Miss. Manners would envy the clerk processed my order then wished me well in my endeavours. Again I wished I had had the time to look around but I swear I could smell the meat sizzling in my car. Damn that Ros!
I made it home in record time and the food was fine. Despite my lack of hardware/handyman skills, I assembled the Bug Trapper then practiced trapping an imaginary bug/spider/insect/creepy-crawly and relocating it outside. The Bug Trapper sits at the ready and despite me cursing my friend Ros throughout my experience, I am thankful for her advice and introducing me to something new.
But one thing was clear - I obviously need to get out more. First stop - Lee Valley Hardware.