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You’ve recently bought a new home, and you couldn’t be happier. It’s seen better days, but it’s yours, and the prospect of having a house of your own to fix up excites you. But before this, it’s all been apartments.

You might have a hammer that you’ve used to hang up pictures, and a screwdriver that came with your old Ikea furniture – where’s the best place to go to get everything you’ll need to help make your handyman dreams a reality?

What hardware stores are the best resources for you as you begin this journey?

Well now, faithful reader – I’m no shlub when it comes to work around the house, and I’m here to help point you in the right direction.

The Elephants in the Room

Everyone – EVERYONE – thinks of The Home Depot or Lowes first. And with good reason. The sheer size of their inventory can’t be beat, and if you know precisely what you need for your next project, then you’ll be hard pressed to find someplace more affordable.

That’s the upside of those major chains.

The downside is, at least in my experience, that where helpfulness and overall customer service is concerned, The Home Depot and Lowes are among the worst companies out there. And not just among hardware companies, either!

So if you aren’t sure just what you want, you’re very likely to have a frustrated experience trying to track anyone down who can help you. Let alone someone who is willing to take the time to assist you in your learning.

My Favorites

My inclination is to always use a mid-range hardware store if I can. If they are local to my community, all the better!

Local business tend to prioritize helpfulness and customer service to make up for the sometimes higher prices they have on their inventory.

ACE Hardware advertises itself as “the helpful place”, and, in my experience, they live up to that mantra. ACE is the only chain hardware store I’ve been in where staff has approached me to see how they can help. They tend to be on the smaller side of hardware stores, but where the broad strokes are concerned – your first tools, basic fasteners and hardware, and the like – I couldn’t recommend them more highly.

Alternatively, you might try Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). OSH falls somewhere in between the ACEs of the world and the major chains, in my opinion. They’re big enough to have most things you can expect to need, but not so big that you’ll be lost trying to find what you want.

They’re a great alternative to the bigger brands.

Outside of the box a little bit, you might have a Tractor Supply or a similar agricultural supply store in your town. These will tend to be more geared towards the agricultural and farming community, which makes it a great resource for yard tools. But that isn’t all they carry, and if you’re looking for your first basic tools, I would certainly give Tractor Supply a look!

Well there you have it. This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, so feel free to shoot me a line if you think I missed anything obvious!

I hope this has been helpful, and I look forward to hearing how your new home is coming along.

Skip Jankoski

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