On Saturday mornings my husband and I enjoy going to yard sales. Last week we found a bike, which ended up being quite a valuable find, so this week we were excited to try our luck again. That’s when we came across these beautiful pieces of history. Since Jon and I have both studied printing in college and have used Vandercook presses, we knew right away that these were letterpress drawers, once belonging to a huge cabinet containing several different fonts. The teenaged daughter of the woman selling the drawers called them “knickknack shelves.” We bought the set for $10.
I’ve always wanted one of these drawers (along with an old card catalog) so I just couldn’t pass them up. We decided right away that we wanted to turn them into two tables for our living room; one end table and one coffee table. A few months ago I saw this post on how to convert an old suitcase into a table and figured it would be an easy enough DIY project to do something similar with these drawers.
It was still early by the time we finished yard sale hunting, so we decided not to waste any time and get started with our new project. The only thing that had been added to these drawers over the years were a couple of picture hangers nailed into the backs of each one which were easily removed. Next it was time to get some legs for our table and try to find glass to fit over the tops of them.
If you clicked on the link above and read the before mentioned post about the suit case, the author states that she, “found some screw-in coffee table legs at Home Depot, and wa-la! 🙂” That sounded easy enough to us, so that’s where we went.
Now, let me just say something at this point. I’ve hated big box stores for a long time and I’ve hated Home Depot in particular since I was in college. Back then I’d find myself there from time to time collecting materials for various strange-sounding art projects, wandering around that massive store lost and confused and trying to find someone to help me. Then, when I did find someone to help me, they wouldn’t understand what I was trying to do and would basically make me feel like an idiot for being in the store in the first place. But alas, I have gotten off track a bit.
Today, as we walked into the nearby Home Depot and were not greeted by the greeter, we proceeded to wander aimlessly around the store. We looked up at the large, suspended signs above our heads, trying to figure out if the powers that be would put coffee table legs in the hardware aisle, the lumber aisle, or maybe with the housewares? Finally, I located and flagged down a man in an orange apron, who seemed only a little put off that I would interrupt his brisk stride across the store and quickly tried to explain want we were looking for.
By this time Jon was by my side, letterpress drawer in hand. The man looked at the drawer and on his face was an expression that I would describe as a mix between annoyance and confusion. He proceeded to lead us to an area with a lot of doors, molding, and dowel rods. We all looked around and Jon mentioned something about seeing the product that we were looking for on the Home Depot website. The man in the orange apron responded to this by saying that “If this store carried everything that we carry online, the store would need to stretch to such-and-such street and I would need a golf cart just to work here.” Then he picked up a thick dowel and suggested, in all honesty I can only assume, that we use those as our table legs. Jon asked if their was anywhere else we could go to find what we were looking for. He said he didn’t have any idea. We gave each other a look, thanked the man and left the store.
Walking back to the car I said to Jon, “why did we come here? This happens every time we come here, we never find what we need and are always treated badly to boot. I’m never setting foot in this store again! Let’s go to the hardware store on Madison.”
We stepped into Lakewood Hardware and were greeted immediately by a pleasant young woman behind the counter. Seeing the letter-press drawer under Jon’s arm she indicated an older gentleman and said he’d be with us shortly.
While we waited we decided to wander around the 3,600 square foot space (the average Home Depot is approximately 130,000 square feet). I was looking at some cords and rope when the before mentioned man, Tom, came up to me and asked if he could help me! To be honest I was taken off guard at first but then quickly waved Jon over with the drawer and we again explained our project.
Tom understood exactly what we wanted to do immediately. Not only did he understand, but he seemed genuinely excited about it. He told us that they didn’t carry table legs like we were looking for, but we could find them at Cleveland Lumber. He said to ask for Michael or Vince and told us where Cleveland Lumber is located.
Next we asked him about the glass tops. He explained how we could possibly mount the glass onto the drawer tops and that we shouldn’t use tempered glass because it could shatter if a cold drinking glass was placed on it. He told us that they could order the glass for us and how much it would cost. Afterward we chatted for a while and he gave us many ideas on what we could display in the drawer compartments; thimbles, Hot Wheels, etc. and told me that I could clean the hard to reach corners using q-tips. We thanked him for all his help, though this time we really meant it.
Upon walking out the door I said to Jon, “Now that’s a hardware store! We’re coming here from now on!”
This is not a fairy tale about how the Mom and Pop local hardware store is better than the big bad Home Depot; this is a true story about how the Mom and Pop local hardware store is better than the big bad Home Depot. These events really did happen to us and they happened today.
The moral of the story is to give small, locally owned businesses a chance. I think that, consciously or unconsciously, we believe that we need to go to big box stores because they are big. We think that they will have more items to choose from and that their prices will be lower. We think this way because they want us to think this way. I find the opposite to be true. Small shops may have a small footprint but the owners and employees know what’s within their walls. Usually these stores have a specialty, so within that specialty they have a lot more selection. And, if you’re trying to find something that they don’t happen to carry, they are more than happy to tell you where you can get it.
Before I close this post I would like to ask you readers to think of the last time you were in a big box store. Whether it be Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, Target, Best Buy, whatever. Now think about the selection you were presented with and the service you received (or didn’t receive). Was it a good experience? Did you feel like you were saving time or money?
Do you have a story to share about this topic? I would love to here it! Please leave a comment below. If your story is longer than comment size I encourage you to write a blog post about it then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section.
Thank you for reading, live long and buy local.
**Update** Want to see how my coffee table turned out? Check out this post for the finished product!