A dying breed. It used to be that every small town in America had one of these, that everyone would go to for paint, tools, plumbing, electrical, repair work, whatever. Since the advent of the chain hardware stores and home improvement category killer stores, though, they've been hit hard. Now most of them are affiliated with a larger franchise sort of thing, and the best are still around.

The one near us is amazing. We once were restoring an antique armoire that needed a bullet catch. Home Depot had no such thing. A trip to the hardware store and we found a pack of them in a dusty old box. Just what we needed, cheap, friendly, and professional.

I don't think you need to buy everything at your local hardware store, but you really should go there when you need something specific, and you don't want to get lost in one of those huge warehouses.