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Guest Column: I’ve got those (new?) old hardware smiles

July 1, 1993

(A response to Mike Leifheit’s column June 11)

My husband and I chuckled over Mike Leifheit’s “blues” as he hunted for replacement parts when his cooler compressor broke, and he eventually found a savior at the Rockton Hardware.

I have never spent much time in hardware stores, since the man of the house is chief of repairs. I figured such places were male haunts like Tim’s favorite hangout in TV’s Home Improvement.

But I think I have just become a convert. Yesterday, after taking my list to one of the big-box stores and coming up empty, I wandered into the Edgebrook Ace Hardware and was amazed. Eager salesmen were easy to spot and ready to help. I immediately found two items I had been hunting for: a narrow food scraper that I could purchase by itself; it didn’t come with three larger ones in a package. The second discovery was a small lithium battery for my old Pentax camera—a rare find, as few stores carry that size now.

The third item on my list was more elusive: a replacement for an old West Bend electronic clock/timer, just 2-1/2 inches square, and flat—just right for timing a half-hour nap or slipping into a suitcase. The store carried several timers, but they were big and fairly expensive.

“This is what I had in mind,” I said to the salesman as I showed him the old one. “I could still use it if there were some way of keeping the tiny battery from falling out. I tried duct tape, but that didn’t work.”

The young man took my little timer and disappeared into the back room for a few minutes. When he emerged—Voila! The digital screen was working!

And how did this magician solve the problem? When I turned over the timer, I saw a penny held down by clear tape.

That repair job cost me one cent!

You can be sure I’ll be going into that store again. Where else can you find live human beings who can direct you right to the section you want—people with ingenuity, yet who are willing to find a way to save you money?

Maybe hardware stores are not just male domains.

Pat Dolan Harker is a local resident.

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