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).
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.
The team behind the mom-and-pop Fabric Warehouse started their textile adventure in 1994 with 1,000 square feet of space. Since then, the store has moved to a 12,000-square-foot building packed with colorful indoor and outdoor fabrics, along with a variety of home decorations. Fabric Warehouse's two professional designers have the knowledge and expertise to help their clients customize bedding and drapery for master bedrooms or create an animal-print theme for a Neolithic-style man cave.
The friendly tool experts at Direct Tools Factory Outlet help customers to negotiate the store's huge inventory of new, reconditioned, and factory-blemished hardware from brands such as Ryobi, Homelite, and Milwaukee. Items are priced at a reduced rate, giving purchasers extra money and a brand-new stockpile of hardware to construct a time machine to go back and impress an early hominid with a Dirt Devil Scorpion 7-amp hand vacuum ($29.99) or a factory-blemished Ryobi One+ Lithium-Ion compact drill ($127.99). Each product carries a warranty of at least one year, even the reconditioned items, which had to get back in shape with pushups and burpees to earn their warranty ribbon.