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 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.
The savvy staff of Roswell Do It Best Hardware–an authorized dealer of STIHL and Big Green Egg products–keeps shelves stocked with all the tools, supplies, and accouterments needed for a cornucopia of home-improvement tasks. Hardware-minded visitors can fill fists with a 16-ounce hammer ($8.49) or grab hold of a 6-pound, double-face sledgehammer ($23.49), which gives arms the oomph necessary to drive stakes into the ground or smash them into nail-size shards. Customers can peruse the hefty selections of nails ($15.99) and upholstery pins ($2.49), which come in handy for holding projects together, and 16-ounce bottles of exterior wood glue ($7.49) assist home-tinkerers in fulfilling hammerless home improvements. Two-pound chopping axes ($39.99) stand at the ready for chopping wood, overgrown trees, and those pesky telephone poles that get tangled in overgrown trees.
The Paper Fairy custom prints invitations and announcements and offers a slew of party accessories and gifts, aiding hosts and hostesses in their quests to make every event incomparable. An array of card choices, with birthday, baby, and personal stationery among them, await a custom message, and little pick-me-up presents from brands such as Tyler Candle and Mud Pie jostle for attention in the cheery, aqua-painted store.
Kid to Kid is an upscale children's and maternity resale store that buys clothing, toys, furnishings, and baby gear before selling it back at affordable prices. Before making the cut, all clothes and shoes must be deemed certifiably elite in stylishness, cleanliness, and newishness. Items are hand-selected by discerning staffers who put them through an intense screening process in which the gems make the rack and the duds are sent back. Back-to-school shoppers can find brands such as Gap and Gymboree, and moms-to-be can find fashions for themselves and their baking buns. Each piece of equipment and every toy is squeaky-clean and well-mannered, always poised for an invite to the most exclusive teddy bear picnics.