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.