When I moved into my suburban enclave thirteen years ago, there was a hardware store in the next suburban enclave over that was a throwback to another era. It was called "Simons," and I do believe that it was actually owned by a Simon at some point. Naturally, it fell victim to the Home Depots that sprouted up around it, who undercut its prices by about forty percent. It was the sort of store where if you asked a question about screws, the sales person knew screws. And I mean KNEW screws. Plus, the majority of the employees there looked like different versions of Robert Young in his "Father Knows Best" years, and would Robert Young steer me wrong? No way! Clearly, they had worked there for umpteen years and, yes, it was their real job, and they acted like it was a pretty okay place to work. In short, they were pleasant and knew their stuff (plus the Robert Young vibes). The turn-over rate there was non-existent. I loved going there because I am a mechanical idiot and I never ended up buying crap I didn't need out of ignorance. I didn't mind paying for the fact that the employees actually got a decent salary on the mark-up on my wrench because I figured I was paying for not only the item but the expertise.
When it got paved over and an upscale supermarket was put in its place, I mourned it of course, but by that time I was so inured to that sort of thing that it was just another blip in the corporatization of American society. There is a small ACE hardware in town, but they hire a lot of high-school kids who exude bored 'tude with every snap of their gum and the stock is limited and, well, it isn't Simons.
Lo and behold, I just read in the paper that an ACE hardware is going into the suburban enclave next door, not two blocks away from where the old Simons used to be. I know it's ridiculous to expect that it will be similar to Simons, with people who know their stuff and don't have that hungry, worn-out look on their faces that is the hallmark of every single Home Depot employee I've ever laid eyes on, but here's hoping.