Everyone here has probably suffered the plight of searching through a high-volume store which may or may not have that fiddling little part you need to finish up a project. A can of stain, a loose bolt, or a bit of sheet metal can be devilishly hard to find, especially in massive chain stores with their wares stacked forty feet high and maintained by salespeople who may not have any idea where to find what you need or what you’re talking about.
The answer? Most toolmongers probably know it: the local hardware store. Though they won’t be able to sell you enough drywall to put a second floor on your house, that little two-room hardware store at the end of the block is a great way to find what you need. The owners are usually the ones manning the counter, and tend to know their inventory inside out and backwards. You enter with a question, leave with a solution, and your money stays close by.
(Thanks to Flickr user moyix for this great CC-licensed photo.)