Thursday, February 26, 2009

Old-time Downtown Hardware Store

I'd been looking for a source of old-fashioned paste wax for my wood floors. It's not available locally, so I searched online. And found that it's carried by Ace Hardware stores. Which led me to the telephone book to see where one might be located. Which led me to a store I had not visited in years.

Pile's Hardware has been a Charleston institution for years. Located on the west side, it's grown over the years as the west side itself has suffered economic and population ups and downs. Currently the west side seems to be showing some improvement although it still has many issues of crime, poverty and unemployment.


When I opened the door, I stopped in pure delight. This was no ordinary hardware store! Graniteware, stone crocks, galvanized washtubs, kerosene lamps and cast iron lined the shelves. Wood stoves and electric fireplaces were on display. In this store I could buy parts for a hand-cranked meat grinder in the aisle next to the I-Pod docking station.
Washtubs and crocks line the high shelves, while below is stacked everything else an farm kitchen might need--glass and crockery baking dishes, jar lifters, kerosene lamps, chimneys and other lamp parts, ladles and funnels, scales, popcorn poppers, strainers, and on an on.


From mops to fondue sets to oilcloth, deck sealer and paint thinner, toilets innards and nails--it all co-exists at Pile's.

As I checked out, I looked at what other customers were buying: a 5-gallon plastic bucket, a bag of salt, plumbing fittings, a 50-amp electrical box--the clerks were able to advise and assist each one. I picked up a copy of the Old Farmer's Almanac to add to my purchases.


My wax wasn't cheap, but it will be worth the money and effort to apply it. And I suppose a 25% increase in the last 15-20 years is to be expected in a petroleum based product. I bought both the paste and the liquid varieties in case we got tired of being on our knees. We'll see which we like best.

It was a good end to a busy day, and I am glad to know Pile's is still there and seems to be just as busy as ever.
We need more stores like this one--crowded, neighborhood stores with everything you need and a little more, with clerks who know their stuff, and I don't have to walk miles in a huge department store to find what I want. Pile's Hardware rates an A+ in my book for service and style.

22 comments:

Country Whispers said...

This looks like my kind of store & Yes we do need more of these stores around.

Cathy said...

I love Pile's. The paste wax will last forever so it's worth the expense. I am a big fan of hardware stores. Firstly, they smell so good. Secondly, you always see something more you needed and didn't plan on buying when you went in.
I wish we had more stores like them. I hate going to Walmart for anything. I'd rather pay more at a local business than feed Walmart's pockets.

Granny Sue said...

When I go to Wal-Mart, my feet and legs hurt for hours afterwards. It must be something to do with the composition of their flooring material because I don't have this problem at other stores. Or maybe it's psychosomatic? It makes me dread going there, but sometimes there's no choice in my area of another place to get the things I need.

City Mouse said...

I've really come to love our local Ace. I recently learned that they'll order anything they can get their hands on for you, and it will come for you to pick up at the store - no shipping costs. I always find it amazing that the folks in the store always seem able to advice on anything I ask about.

Granny Sue said...

We had an Ace hardware for a while but it's location was poor so it closed down. A pity. At least this one is in my usual daily travel range.

Susan said...

Love those photos! It looks like our village hardware store, which is also a post office, grocers', feedstore and newsstand.

I wish more town shops would stay with us, instead of leaving Main Street for the strip malls that can only be reached by car, and leave the hearts of towns empty and dead. Long live Pile's!

Vera said...

Piles is a great store, if you can't find it anywhere else go to Piles.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Granny Sue,
What an interesting article about the hardware. Sounds like the little ole' country store we used to have in the BLue Ridge Mtn. of western North Carolina.

I saw your comment on Tipper's blog, (Blind Pigs & Acorns) and decided to visit your blog. It is really good. You might want to visit my blog and read my quilt poems at: http://blueridgepoet.blogspot.com

Granny Sue said...

Hi Brenda,
Thank you for stopping by. I will certainly want to read your poems.

There used to be so many of these stores. One of the things on my wish list for when I retire is to spend time in the general stores that are left in WV and write about them, take photos, and document what I can before they all disappear.

Jason Burns said...

You can thank big retail monster stores like Wal-Mart for the lack of good stores like these. A Wal-Mart moves into a town, steals all the customers and the employees of the stores, then the stores shut down.

I try not to shop at Wal-Mart if I can help it. It's such a horrid, depressing, and ultimately unsatisfying experience. Everything in Walmart is the same and as generic as the next.

Janet, said...

I hadn't been in Piles for a while. I see it quite often when we're in West Charleston.It sounds a little like the one in Cairo, WV. It's a really old one and has lots of neat stuff.

Maggie and Roger said...

This looks like a store I could spend hours in! What a wonderful hardware store!

Granny Sue said...

Maggie, we'll definitely go there when you're in.

And the one in Cairo--Janet is right, it's way cool. It has one whole side devoted to non-electric devices. Of course, if we're there, we'd have to go to Berdine's in Harrisville too. A road trip that would be so much fun!

Nance said...

There's a store just like that here in Iowa, 30 miles from me! Narrow aisles, items displayed down low and up high. There's a basement, and main floor and a mezzanine -- do you remember those? sort of like a balconey. Or a half story between two high ceilinged storeys?

Anyway, if you can't find it anywhere else, you can find it at Robinson's, Osceola, IA!

Granny Sue said...

Iowa is one of the states I've not yet visited, Nance. Everything I read convinces me I need to. Isn't Ted Kooser, my favorite poet, from there?

Char5 said...

My husband says that this is store is just too dangerous to take me to (LOL) I always find just too many wonderful things to buy here-especially in the cookware isle!!!
;-)

Fran Cannon Slayton said...

I love local stores, too. I have been following your blog a bit because of your posts about Rowlesburg, which is my parents' hometown. And to my delight I've been learning a lot about the arts in WV. Thank you!

Granny Sue said...

I am glad you came to visit, Fran. Rowlesburg is such a pretty place. I would like to go back to visit again. Especially that antique store! And I really wanted to drive over to the other side of the river to see the view from there.

Granny Sue said...

Char, I completely understand your husband's point of view. I think my husband would be a danger to our pocketbook in that place, though. It's heaven for anyone into tools as well as for those of us into old-time kitchen things.

solsticedreamer~laoi gaul~williams said...

oh lovely! there has been a shop like yours in my village for longer than i have been alive and still run by the same family. if we ever have need of anything we just say 'streets will have it' and they generally do. they even have a really old pink parafin pump and you just take any old container and they fill it. a wonderful old fashioned shop

Granny Sue said...

I would love that shop, laoi. There used to be one near where I lived in Virginia too, but it quickly became a convenience store when all the subdivisions were built around us. Just one more reason I had to leave that area and come here where life was still reasonable and some space between neighbors was still possible. At first it was a lot of space, about a mile, between us and our nearest neighbor. I liked that just fine; now his kids have built and they're closer but it's still okay because I've known them since they were little kids.

Anonymous said...

Check out the facebook page for boltz hardware, garden center, and general store in Martinsburg WV.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...