Hometown Hardware Stores
Every person who lives in a house needs hardware, whether it’s tools or materials to fix things...life needs to be maintained and we get what we need at hardware stores. I always encourage people to shop at locally-owned stores, so I chose hardware stores as my category to search for useful gifts this year. And yes, Ace, True Value, and Do It Best Co-op are locally-owned franchises, so they have access to MORE STUFF! If it’s not in stock, they can order it for you!
Sonoma County has some of the very best hardware stores for most items you need. Even the small ones carry generators for power shut-downs, BBQs, kitchenware, paint and brushes, plants, and of course...hardware like nails, screws & tools. Unless you need lumber, you can pretty much get what you need at your local store, and some even have lumber as well!
We have a wide selection of the kind of hardware store people like visiting. The classic woods floors, narrow aisles and stuff you find nowhere else. These stores reflect the personality of the owners/managers in their selection of items on shelves and how they create spaces for customers to browse.
I have several favorite hardware stores and one is simply because it’s MINE, my town, therefore my store. Another favorite because of the unique items they sell. And another because they really try to be as broad-spectrum as they can, even with limited space.
MY hardware store is Ideal Hardware in Forestville. Owned by Robbie Baba who took over when his father, Bob, retired. The Baba Boys are infamous in Forestville. Robbie puts careful attention into offering us what we need when mid-project on weekends and to what tourists need when staying at a vacation rental nearby. His oiled wooden floors welcome you with warmth and tradition. His offerings satisfy most needs without leaving town. And over the holidays he offers Baba Bucks that you cash in after the new year has begun.
Rex Ace Hardware in Petaluma also has classic wood floors and takes merchandising to a high level. They even have Radio Flyer wagons! Their salt & pepper shaker collection is legendary. Yes, tools, supplies, but GIFTS as well. Prepare to enjoy yourself while shopping.
Here’s one you may not know about. It’s a True Value on the corner of Airport Boulevard and Old Redwood Highway in Larkfield/Wikiup. It is 100% UNIQUE! I would never have known about this place if not for my friend Sam. Like me, she was a hardware store junkie...“Vesta...you have to check this one out!” The variety of inventory is astounding....EVERYTHING you need and I mean EVERYTHING...even white tarps! BUT - they also have military surplus from ammo boxes to clothing. Strange objects to art objects - yes, polish quartz globes on a shelf at the end by the paint section. Redwood slabs, bullet casings, the strangest and most wondrous things that you can’t figure out what it’s for, all carefully shelved and labeled amid shelf after shelf of every hardware item you could ever need or want. THIS is an EXPERIENCE!
Garrett Hardware in Windsor & Healdsburg, and Sebastopol Hardware (in Sebastopol) have similar approaches to being as broad spectrum as you could possibly need with very helpful staff to help you find the items you came for. Go ahead, wander about! It’s like going to the grocery store with a small list and coming away with more.
Each of these businesses have extensions to their main buildings so the farther you wander the more you find. Garrett even has The Gift Horse that goes all out for kitchen and garden decor, and even a pet section that sells birds so you can hear them chirping as you get close! Sebastopol takes it one step further and has a full pet store with everything pet, including tanks with fish! And this time of year they have their Holiday Tent up with all kinds of Christmas decorations and ornaments!
Parson’s Lumber & Hardware is my favorite when I’m in east county, which I used to be frequently to repair newsstands. Invariably I would need something I hadn’t brought with me. They became my go-to place because they are so friendly and extremely helpful. They look small from the front but they even have a lumber yard!
You may think that sending people to hardware stores is an odd way to suggest gifts, but I believe fervently that gifts can be useful as well as luxuries people wouldn’t buy for themselves. When we get back to the concept of gift-giving that enhances someone’s life, hardware stores are an excellent resource.