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.