Goodbye To The Hardware Guy

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As we move into summer, it’s time to turn our attention to our outside living areas. Beautiful weather allows us to hose down our outdoor patio furniture and decks, giving everything a nice, clean look.

A few years ago, we purchased a hand-made rectangular fire table from someone on Craigslist. It weighs a ton, but it comfortably seats six people with a generous area for drinks and nosh-items. The surface is comprised of many little decorative tiles and, during the winter, some of the tiles came loose and needed to be re-affixed.

I made a quick stop to see my local Hardware Guy in town for some masonry adhesive and, as usual, he had just what I was looking for. Robby has been in the same spot for as long as I can remember and never disappoints. I’ve had my own home in Massapequa for over 30 years and that hardware store has been a trusted friend. My wife even joked that if anything ever happened to me, she would marry Robby because he could fix anything.

Nothing against the big box stores that seem to have a lot of everything. It’s just that the Hardware Guy knows about everything—and he knows where everything is. His hardware store isn’t set up (or big enough) for you to browse around looking for what you need. You don’t grab a cart and peruse up and down the aisles. First, there are no aisles. Second, there are no carts.

When you walk in, Robby greets you and asks you what you need. If he’s busy helping someone else, you quietly look around the store until he’s finished and then it’s your turn. When you need a specific screw or nut, the Hardware Guy takes the old one and heads to the back of the store, where it’s lined from wall-to-wall with little boxes. He instinctively picks out the one you need, and for 35 cents, you’re on your way.

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of those 35 cent sales to keep him in business due to ever-increasing rent. “We’ve been here for 39 years,” he told me. “We were doing enough business to tread water, but it’s just too much now.”

Several new businesses that recently opened have changed the landscape in the part of Massapequa Park that we affectionately call “town.” Where it was once dotted with mom-and-pop specialty stores, now it is starting to become gentrified and steering more toward trendy restaurants, cafés and bars.

The personal service you would get at your local hardware store just can’t be mimicked at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Granted, there are probably some experienced people working in those stores, but they are few and far between. When you’re searching the hardware aisle in those stores looking for a specific size screw, you are basically on your own. If you magically find the box marked for the size screw you are looking for, there is no guarantee there are any screws inside the box. Even worse, what’s inside the box might be the wrong screws. After all, anyone could put anything in any box. They are just too out in the open and you know how careless the general public can be.

Like the captain of a ship, the Hardware Guy knows every inch of his store and, more importantly, where everything is. No matter what you need, no matter how ridiculous your question, the Hardware Guy can help you out.

Saddened to know that he was closing the door for good, I asked him what was next for him? “Nothing,” he said rather confidently, “I’m just going to relax and enjoy myself.”

Good for him, but bad for my wife. With him out of the picture, what’s she going to do when I’m gone?

Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.

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