Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

RIP Virginia Hardware

March 11, 2006

Let’s all hold our hammer over our heart and salute one of the last bastions of the wisdom, camraderie, support, and quality product that can still be found at a true local hardware store. A place that always felt like it had been there forever, but which won’t ever be there again.

A place where the employees don’t hide from the customers, and where they actually know enough to help you. Where you learn to ask for everything first, because the place is stacked so high and deep that you’ll never find it otherwise.
A place where you can go for copies of keys that actually work, where you can ask for a ‘pole sander’ without getting a dumb look or snicker in response, and where they always have two bags of 20-minute compound. Where they will custom-cut a piece of real glass, and direct you to the points and glazing compound while you wait. Where the hardware comes in drawers, not plastic bags, and you can buy 3 bolts, 4 nuts, and 7 washers, if that’s what you need.

The last time I was there, I had this weird feeling that, by only buying three bolts, I was damning the place to its demise. I thought that I should buy a belt sander or something, just to support the cause. Now, there’s (yet another) restaurant in Clarendon, and Arlingtonians are gonna have to drive to Frager’s to get help and hardware.

I shall close this eulogy with the immortal words of David Wilcox:

An angel appeared
in a holy vision
Stood by my bedside
in shivering light
Spoke my name
Told me my mission
I could not believe I was hearing him right
Because he said, ‘Go, my son, go…
Always go to East Asheville Hardware
Before you go to Lowe’s

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4 Responses to “RIP Virginia Hardware”

  1. ArborSam says:

    Mike…your description is apt. I can almost smell the place. Solenburger’s was the place in old town Winchester. Creaky wood floors with exposed brick, tools on the first floor, bolts and nails and such in wood bins to the ceiling on the second floor, more eclectic stuff in the attic third level space. The third level was fun to explore when I was a kid even when it was so incredibly hot up there in the summer. A virtual cornucopia of things that one might need, kept there just in case, some of it looked as if it had been there since the 20′s. It was like the attic space of a old bookstore, except with hardware stuff.Thinking about it now it would be an ebay treasure trove. People hung out to talk about stuff, the old guys would talk about whatever addition we were working on with my dad for what always seemed a long time. I remember going there when I broke out a window…they custom cut the glass to fit. My sons may never truly experience such a place. Now I go to the ubiquitous Lowes and it may take me two to three trips to find that rare “sales associate” that knows the nuanced details of the particular project I am about to tackle…and save me time and money with their priceless morsels of advice that you can’t find in the how to books. He’s any one of the guys that used to work at the local Solenburger’s my father trusted to get it right the first time.

    Give me another Crate and Barrel what do we have to lose? You hit the nail on the head brother.

  2. P3T3RK3Y5 says:

    hear hear.

    the music variant of that is:

    Always go to Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center
    Before you go to

  3. emmegab says:

    Mike, I’ve got to meet you, next time you’re in Chattanooga. Great, great post-it describes our Abe Shavin to a “t”-and you’ve particularly endeared me, as I grew up riding my bike almost daily to said East Asheville Hardware for cokes and snacks. It was a sad, sad day when it closed.

  4. Chris Haw says:

    Now, I don’t comment on much, but this necessitates a serious bowing of the head, tip of the hat, and a serious face of resolution. A face of both accepting and not accepting the tragedy before us. But its not just about our own tragedy, what about our kids? What kind of miserable, deplorable lives are they going to live, thinking that what you get at Home Depot actually represents “you can do it, we can help”? Lies. Degradation. Indeed, this is no country for old men. Chris Haw

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