There’s something about an old hardware store that I can’t get enough of.
We still have one in my neighborhood, called Kraftco. I’m thankful it’s still around, but with the big chains of the world, not to mention the internet, I fear its days may be numbered.
Kraftco has been around as long as I can remember, which is almost six decades. I found myself headed there again the other day in my search for batteries, or picture hooks or just the right size screw. There was a young man standing in front of the double glass doors when I pulled up, waiting for a customer. He looked big enough to be on one of the high school football teams around town, and he greeted me with an open door.
I walked in slowly, enjoying the atmosphere and smells that are unique to this long-cherished family owned establishment. Nearby, a man said he was looking for a copper mailbox, and his salesman headed off down one of the tight aisles that elicit thoughts of a grandmother’s attic, full of charm and memories from another time.
A woman came in, joining the activity by requesting a hammered soap dish for her upstairs bath, and the man helping her moved quickly, as if he had been expecting her.
My friend Ken, whose wife Renetta is a realtor, has a good Kraftco story. He says Renetta once sold a house to an elderly single gentleman, and on the day before closing, Ken was with her when the man came for his final walk through.
“We met at the front door,” Ken said, “and before Renetta could open it the old guy said, ‘Hold it right there!’”
Ken asked him what the trouble was, and the man said someone had removed the door knocker, and that he wasn’t buying the house without it.
“Sure enough,” Ken laughed, “there was an outline on the door, and two screw holes where a door knocker had obviously been.”
“I told him I would get him a door knocker and have it on before he moved in, but he said it had to be the exact door knocker that had been there before, which he said was a goose wearing a bow tie.”
“He was adamant about it and so I pulled Renetta aside and told her I was off to go find a goose wearing a bow tie door knocker.
She said it would be impossible, but I headed out anyway.”
“When I got to Kraftco, I told the guy helping me what I needed, and he looked over his shoulder and yelled, ‘Hey Charlie, we still got any of those tuxedo goose door knockers?’”
“The one called Charlie mumbled something back in hardware store language and waddled down one of the aisles, where he began climbing up on a ladder to get at a spot that looked like it hadn’t been got at in awhile. After a minute, I heard Charlie say—‘Yeah here it is.’”
A moment later, Ken was walking out the door with his handwritten receipt for his purchase of the unusual door knocker that looked like a goose wearing a bow tie.
Back at the house, he found Renetta and the old man still standing by the front door, as if the missing door knocker had created a force field to keep them from entering.
“I walked over and handed him the sack,” Ken said. “He looked in it suspiciously and then back up at me like he couldn’t believe it. He pulled it out as Renetta stood there with her mouth open. I had been gone less than 20 minutes.”
Ken said the next day everyone was happy at the title company as the old gentleman signed the papers on his goose in the bow tie door knocker, which came with a house attached.