For more than three decades, Rocky Ridge Hardware has kept handy Birmingham homeowners well stocked in topnotch tools, gardening supplies, collegiate memorabilia, and antiques. Fanatical fixer-uppers can get their fix by perusing aisles adorned with brand-name wares organized in an array of do-it-yourself categories including paint, electrical, lawn care, plumbing, and robot defense. Protect newly painted walls with odorless Kilz spray primer ($4.99), keep hardwood floors fresh with a Bona floor-care system ($29.99), or measure that giant reptilian bone you found in the backyard with a brand new 25-foot measuring tape ($7.89).
With humble beginnings in 1924, Ace Hardware now comprises 4,600 stores in all 50 states and in more than 70 countries, guiding everyone from seasoned do-it-yourselfers to novices through its massive inventory. Enlist the aid of a knowledgeable pro while sifting through tools, lawn and garden supplies, electrical equipment, and outdoor-living accessories that simplify the hosting of backyard barbecues and the hanging of Christmas lights on zoo animals. Holiday accessories such as 100-count lights ($9.99) and portable fireplaces ($29.99) aid and imbue celebrations with seasonal spirit. During any time of year, a hatchet ($18.49–$36.99) helps forest visionaries see the wood for the trees, and a second mailbox ($13.99–$84.99) doubles the amount of fan mail homeowners can expect to receive.
Ace Hardware's project people assist and advise on a gamut-running range of home- and garden-oriented endeavors. The 20-pound propane-tank refill will pump up a deflated cylinder with the energy to grill juicy burgers, cook corn on the cob, or blaze a flame that can be used as a nightlight for adults locked out of their own houses. Like a roaring campfire or a solar panel, the propane-tank refill can also be used for outdoor heating.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
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 ($8.49), a VPT rip hammer ($6.29), 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. Illuminate the newfound décor with a 12-pack of Ace light bulbs ($21.48), the better to see by as you make use of a Purdy Chinex Slide paint brush ($14.99–$19.99). 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, or you can get keys made for your home or your car thanks to their automotive chip key cutting service.
With a stylish selection and an expert team, EyeCare Associates stocks frames by designers such as Kate Spade, Nine West, Hugo Boss, and Guess. Comprised of doctors and eyewear specialists, the team can screen for eye disease, administer eye exams, fit contact lenses, and repair old frames.