Sunday, November 11, 2007

What's your application?

Have you ever been to a big box hardware store and been greeted by a Caltech grad asking, "What's your application?" I didn't think so. That's why we like Kurt True Value Hardware in Redondo Beach. When I first started work and moved here, I was introduced to the store by a neighbor/coworker/MIT alum. Hey, we are a diverse and tolerant neighborhood where Caltech, MIT and IIT alum live alongside one another and all get along.

Friday, I dropped Iris off at Mr B's Bricks for her weekly Lego motorized simple machines class. Then I crossed the street to go pick up a couple of things at Kurt Hardware. I was greeted by the proprietor, Dick Hyde. He has an engineering degree from Caltech and worked as an engineer/inventor or many years before buying the hardware store. (When I met Dick, I asked if he was Kurt. He said that Kurt retired and sold the store to him.)

Anyway, going there is such a pleasure compared to a big box store. You don't wander the aisles looking for stuff or help. Someone, usually Dick, actually comes up to me to ask what I need. And they don't act impatient if you don't know what you need or what to call it. They ask, "What's your application?". Then they listen and make recommendations. He didn't even bat an eye one day when I said I wanted to hang pictures up. He just asked the weight of the picture and frame and what kind of substrate would it hang on. He handed me a bunch of stuff that cost $2.50 total and told me those are the ones I want for supporting that amount of weight on drywall. Another time, he sold me an assortment of plastic leveling shims for $1 because he diagnosed that was all I needed. Always nice, always helpful.

On my way home, I passed the post office to mail some letters and dropped in at Soul Performance, a surf shop, next door to ask (still in a whisper from laryngitis) if they could recommend a skateboard for Iris. The proprietor, Mark Brog, can build you a custom surfboard to suit your body and your surfing style. He met his wife when he built her a surfboard. The boards are made at a workshop a couple of blocks away, near Kurt Hardware.

Anyway, he came through and had a selection of skateboards suitable for a neophyte Iris' size, at a very reasonable price. Later, when I picked Iris up from Mr. B's Bricks, we stopped by Soul Performance so that Iris could pick her design. After all, the skateboard has to fit her style, too. You can't see the back side, but it is a flame design.

Since it was nearly closing time, Iris had to go back the following morning for her skate lesson at the store. (That's another service that big box stores don't provide.) To help Iris tell which end is which, Mark drew a flower on the front. :-)

Iris' upper front teeth have been loose for so long, yet have been clinging surprisingly tenaciously. She wrote a note to the tooth fairy to please hurry it up.


Dick Hyde passed away but his son, Leland, still runs the shop. Dick had been a hardware pioneer, employing local women to run his store and they are still working there today with his son.  While Leland majored in History, he has spend plenty of time tinkering with his dad and while working with grips in the movie industry.

1 comment:

  1. Dick died shortly after this post. I was surprised to see him back at the store at that time because I had heard that he was very ill. He had been out for months for treatment. He told me that he was back and they will have to carry him out horizontally.

    His widow and staff are continuing to run the store. Stop by and give them your business.


Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.