In 1910, Harry Offner opened his first hardware shop on South Rampart Street in downtown New Orleans, setting the foundation for a local network of three retail stores with more than 27,000 items in stock and 90,000 more available through catalogs or the Ace Hardware website. Like a treasured heirloom or the gene for double-jointed elbows, the business has passed through three generations as Harry's grandkids currently mind the store to help homeowners and handy folks find cleaning and painting supplies, lawn-care implements, housewares, and tools from well-known brands. The knowledgeable staff also assists shoppers with a variety of services, from cutting keys and threading pipes to minor household repair jobs performed by licensed and insured handymen.
Mike’s Hardware's second-generation home-improvement gurus have been helping handymen plumb, paint, and re-wire for nearly thirty years. A veritable toolbox for home improvers, Mike’s extensive product list includes hardware classics, such as locks and fasteners, as well as more obscure items, such as hard-to-find faucet parts and the mystical drill press of Arabia. Embrace odd jobs with the 6-in-1 Enderes screwdriver ($4.79) and buck up blunt blades with the [AccuSharp] (http://www.accusharp.com/) knife and tool sharpener ($9.99). Yard fanatics and ex-entomologists seeking revenge can take up arms with Kill-A-Bug concentrate ($14.95/8 oz.), and garden guardians can whack encroaching weeds and giant-enraging beanstalks with trimmer line ($2.39/40' roll). In addition to heaps of tools and household supplies, Mike’s carries bagged goods including sand, gravel, and concrete, which may come in handy for setting backyard basketball poles or encasing mobster shoes for posterity.
With spring spreading like a bag of spilled gravy, now is the ideal time to throw open the windows and get home-care projects underway. Pick up a Steel Grip six-piece screwdriver set for $8.49 and a whole bunch of screws, anchors, and bolts (prices vary), and you'll be ready to finally mount every buffalo nickel and steel penny in your coin collection. If you need to match paint to a favorite coverlet or choose a hue that complements a pleather recliner, each store offers a paint-matching service free of charge. Get keys made for $1.99 a pop, or clean a barnacle-encrusted carpet with the help of a carpet-cleaning machine ($30 a day to rent).
Each spring, Frisco Fest welcomes more than 100 Louisiana crafters and artists to the picturesque grounds of the San Francisco Plantation, creating a unique environment where regional history and modern creativity converge. Setting up shop in the shadow of centuries-old live oaks, participants peddle everything from handmade jewelry and pottery to homemade jams, and master gardeners host plant-advice clinics to impart tips to green thumbs looking to revive once-lush landscapes or get their azaleas accepted into a private college.
Each year, activities that occupy the big curiosity and little hands of children abound, such as pony rides, petting zoos, and rock climbing, and adults detour from the crafty wares long enough to enjoy a classic-car show and live music by Leroy St. Pierre. Local chefs sizzle up piquant piles of Cajun and creole cuisine to tempt artistic appetites of all ages, and competitive appetites are twice-satisfied during a Chef's cook-off and cracklin contest.
David Art Center, in business for more than four decades, stocks a deluge of quality art supplies from name brands including Liquitex, Winsor & Newton, Daler-Rowney, and PrismaColor. Located just a few minutes from downtown New Orleans, the art-savvy staff also helps visitors to dress up artwork, photography, and two-dimensional dolls with a selection of more than 1,000 styles of moldings and mats, custom-cut glass, and dry-mounting materials.
Offering BYOB art classes in a welcoming, instructor-assisted atmosphere, Corks N Canvas provides a laidback setting for self-expression. Participants will receive step-by-step instruction to craft striking artwork they can take home at the end of the session and place above their mantle, secret trap-door bookcase, or army-men-figurine reenactment of the battle of Pork Chop Hill. Choose among several sessions (click on the address of your chosen location to see a calendar of events) that teach budding strokesters to paint vibrant doggie portraits, landscapes, or abstract-expressionist renditions of the DMV. The creative paintventure may finally spark the dormant artist within that’s been reclusively hiding like Boo Radley since the finger-painting period.