Reinhold Hardware, Milwaukee, WI
This thread REALLY hits a nerve for me not just 'cuz of the loss of hardware stores that were actually what the name implied, but because of true customer service that is disappearing also.
Ron Hofer (post # 9) mentioned Reinhard Hardware in Milwaukee, WI that was an icon of both features I just mentioned. The name was Reinhold, by the way.
This place was started in 1890 and had a warehouse type of building in the back that had a complete sheet metal shop for ductwork, heating, ventilating etc. They also stocked hot rolled shapes in this building - angles, channels, some I-beams and various round bars. If all you needed was four inches of stock if that's all you paid for no charge for cutting.
These hardware stores were a type of community gathering place like the old general stores that helped form communities as cities were being born. About once a year they would put on a show/sale/lunch/feature tools & products - whatever you would call it.
In 1980 I was restoring a coal burning parlor stove (photo below w/my son's first Halloween) and needed lots of mica for the windows so I headed to Reinhold's.
Peter, the company president at the time (but you would never know it 'cuz he didn't put on 'airs') was helping me look through their stock when he asked if I was in a hurry. He was concerned that it would be too much waste/cost and suggested that I give him my list and he would order just the sizes that I needed.
I'm talking about savings of maybe $10.00 or $12.00 and an order that probably only came to about $35.00 or $40.00 total. So I only had to wait a couple of days and I had just what I needed.
For 38 years I have always been a sole proprietor R&D shop so they didn't make a ton of money off of me, but when I was leaving Wisconsin Reinhold was one of the places I went to say goodbye because of the decency they always showed EVERY customer. Peter said, "We'll keep your account open because you never know if there is something you might need that we have & we are always happy to ship".
See if Best Buy treats you like Reinhold Hardware. You know, the place where you get ripped off for a 15% restocking fee if you try to return an unused electronic item that has had the box opened.
It's not just the stores we are losing - it's the sense of community where you are not just a profit-generating piece of livestock going through electronically controlled doorways.
For the record, mom & pop businesses like Reinhold still exist. My daughter has found two that she has worked for & does work for in Flagstaff, AZ. Even though they are not hardware, it's reassuring that that some business people still care.
Best wishes everyone.