Tools in Piedmont

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Drill bits twist, measuring tape unfurls, and saws chomp through two-by-fours in ACE Hardware, where shelves dangle with scores of tools and other home-improvement essentials. Wall pigment by Ace Paint and Benjamin Moore beams across the color spectrum as faucet parts and cabinet hardware retool aging abodes and jury-rigged time machines. Large appliances, such as Honeywell space heaters, Perfect Aire air conditioners, and Cadet thermostats, keep indoor air at a comfortable temperature. Outside, bags of seed and compost join charcoal grills to brighten backyard celebrations as rolling hand trucks heft heavy lumber purchases or prefab doghouses for socialite canines. Tools, electrical tape, and other handyman essentials round out each location's array of fixative and creative supplies.

4024 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland,
CA
US

Someone walking up to Cole Hardware for the first time might think they've stumbled upon a modern art gallery instead of a hardware store. Their front window displays everything from Pollock-esque paintings in gilded frames to chandeliers built from Christmas ornaments to a fine-dining table setting re-created with only tools. In fact, all of the eye-catching installations are created using exclusively Cole Hardware merchandise.

But the displays are also a testament to how the shop has set itself apart in other ways?for nearly 100 years, Cole Hardware has been known for exceptional customer service. What started out as a one-man operation with the motto, "There are no strangers here, only friends we haven't met yet," has grown to a family of stores that also provides home repair services and commercial supplies. Their retail inventory is expansive and competitively priced thanks to backing from Ace Hardware, which has helped the company garner awards from SF Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

956 Cole St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Standard Plumbing Ace Hardware facilitates home-improvement projects and everyday repairs with an array of wares and a staff of knowledgeable handypeople. Embattled emperors can secure their castles by installing sturdy door locks ($9.99+), impede enemy avian messengers’ flight paths with window screens ($8.99+), or create a dry moat of venus flytraps with garden tools ($3.99+). New showerheads ($9.99+) can improve bathing enjoyment and relax vocal cords for water-accompanied arias, and smoke alarms ($8.99+) prevent disaster when dining-room campfires get too rowdy. With more than 50,000 items also available for special order, Standard Plumbing Ace Hardware can equip utility belts with all the supplies needed to tighten up a squeaky home or install a toilet in the living room.

6122 Geary Blvd
San Francisco,
CA
US

Winner of the 2010 ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence, Lowe's has been helping customers conserve energy and expletives with home improvement, gardening, and hardware solutions for every budget. With the store's friendly handypeople as their guide, nail-pounding novices and seasoned remodelers alike can outfit their toolbox for any undertaking with more than 6,000 products between $25 and $50. Impress spouses and annoy car-pooling coworkers by ably installing ceiling fans into your car roof. Add lighting fixtures to darkling domiciles, or finally finish your back yard's Super Mario Bros. level with Lowe's garden tools. The store can also mix together a rainbow of hues for painting projects involving dining rooms, nurseries, and sweat lodges. Afterwards, you can clean up the dust with a 6-Gallon HP Wet/dry Shop Vac ($44.97), or rinse off caulk-covered corpuses under the Moen Brushed Nickel 7 Spray Pattern Shower Massager ($49.98). Regardless of your mission, the accommodating staff at Lowe's will offer expert advice for completing your home's improvements.

491 Bay Shore Blvd
San Francisco,
CA
US

Family-owned and operated since the mid-1970s, Fregosi and Co. Paints is a local paint business and retailer of Benjamin Moore products. The blossoming company features four Bay Area locations, including this friendly South-of-Market showroom. Old-fashioned, knowledgeable customer service here comes straight from one of three generations of Fregosis and their staff, answering all paint-related questions with easy charm and industry know-how, but none of the pretension that can sometimes overwhelm folks at similar shops. These guys may provide the industrial-sized paint supplies and services to large-scale hotels and office buildings, but they are always happy to assist small contractors and DIY-ers with issues from color matching to tricky finishes. The showroom also supplies your peripheral paint needs, like tape, brushes and dropcloths.

273 7th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Chairs for Affairs, in business since 1949, helps party-throwers cater to party-goers with an extensive selection of rental equipment. Make your bashes brim with revelers without resorting to bribery by borrowing from Chairs for Affairs' panoply of chairs, tables, tableware, outdoor accessories, tents, linens, serving equipment and more. Drinks are kept cold with a champagne cooler ($9; rates based on 1-day rental; longer rental rates available upon request), and chins are kept dribble-free with an assemblage of soupspoons ($0.40 each). Throw a well-attended wedding with a bevy of bright-white folding chairs ($1.40 each) and a white-lattice wedding arch ($40), or host a hopping bar mitzvah with a stage ($45 per 4 x 8' section), portable PA system ($70) and a 10'x10' white canopy ($75+). A handful of margarita glasses ($0.45 each) makes drinking simple but juggling difficult, and bread-and-butter plates ($0.50 each) makes room for the essentials.

1530 Contra Costa Blvd
Pleasant Hill,
CA
US