By Sharon Prudhomme
No Need for big box stores or malls!
As the masses begin their scurrying about in a frenzy of crazy lines, over flowing parking lots and not so friendly burned out sales reps, I just shake my head and smile. I’m smiling as memories of long ago trips with dad to the hardware store and lumber yard come to mind. The smell of freshly ripped lumber, wooden floors and big fat stogies smoked by most of the men. Our hamster cages were kept clean with big bags of lumberyard wood shavings as beddings. While the daddy’s may have shared a snort of an adult beverage, the kids were always offered big pretzel logs which we held like cigars as we imitated the men. Christmas cheer, joking and laughter made the trip fun and a holiday tradition.
Stepping into a good old fashioned hardware store opens the senses as the treasured memories come flooding back. The creaky wooden floors, the wafting odors of fertilizers, paints, sub turps and oils bring it all back. I was my father’s shadow, always by his side watching him fix the cars, lawnmowers, dishwashers – pretty much anything my pop could fix. Being the Tom boy that I was, I delighted in learning how to sweat fit copper plumbing, lay brick, building the wood shed, laying cedar shakes and chopping wood for daily cozy winter fires in the living room.
I became aware early on that just about anything one needs could be found in the local hardware store. Three great local hardware stores that I visit are all that! Forget wasting time on thoughtless, meaningless gifts that good chances will be returned or laid aside and forgotten. High prices in the large stores and malls are something I prefer to avoid. Small town hardware stores are friendly and extremely helpful with advice on how to’s.
“Wish lists”? Sadly the fun of surprising a friend or loved one with the perfect gift has seemingly gone by the wayside. Excitement, anticipation, mystery guessing –out the window. In the hardware store the variety of items to be found is incredible! Literally something for all. Some of the pictures here will offer shots at the huge inventory and options. Malls and big box stores have off season items packed away. Not so in our local hardware stores!
Ocean Grove Hardware, is located at 51 Main Ave., Ocean Grove just a few blocks from the beach. Nestled in amongst an inviting lazy street lined with numerous little shops, it reminds me of stepping into Mayberry RFD. One would expect to see Andy and Opie walk in. This homey store front is all decked out in greens and red ribbons with hand stenciled signs touting wreaths and grave blankets. Old maple trees frame the front along the curb. This is just what the Dr. ordered! The friendly staff are ready to help find just what you’re looking for. This fun authentic shop is crammed with an array of fun and useful items. Someone beat me to the silver spray paint! No worries, more on its way! Check the “Chicken Poop” lip balm on the counter! Be sure to load up on unique, funny, useful stocking stuffers! 1000’s to choose from. (Closed on Sunday)
Bain’s Hardware has three locations- 1092 Ocean Avenue, Sea Bright, 528 Arnold Avenue, Pt. Pleasant and the new kid on the block at 1301 Third Avenue, Spring Lake. (This is at the old Spring Lake Variety store location) You’ll be amazed at the variety of fantastic gifts. Prices and selection are tops in every nook and cranny. To take in all the sights be prepared to spend some time assessing gift ideas! Once again all the staff here are friendly, full of smiles and happy to offer suggestions. Off season summer items are in abundance as well as T-Shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with your home town or favorite beach. Tons of kid toys and craft items for stockings and wrapping for that special place under the tree. Check out the cool Key blanks in an array of colors and patterns for a sure hit for any age. Order your key, it will be cut while you shop.(Closed on Sunday)
Jaspan Hardware at 91 Main Street, Manasquan is another great shopping bonanza! A running electric train is set up in the store front window and a fun looksee for the kids. Goofy winter hats, gloves and of course sleds are ready for wrapping. Out front along the sidewalk are assorted shiny galvanized cans which make great storage for bird seed, kindling, tools, dog or cat food and more. Paint one up for a cool personalized “gift wrap” and fill with….whatever! A gift that will last for years! I’m using one from my Nana that Grandad painted green and gave her back in the 60’s to hold cracked corn and bird seed. *Jaspan Hardware is also a FED EX Shipping Center! Talk about one stop shop ‘n ship!
Since the weather has gone down, now is the time to get those screens repaired, so bring them in and do your Christmas shopping. All of our local hardware stores have Christmas lights of various sorts, hardware, housewares, tools, electrical, plumbing, garden supplies, grills, paint, etc. Below are just a few suggestions more.
Bird lover– suet cakes & holder, feeders & bags of seed, squirrel feeders, mini galvanized garbage cans with locking lids for seed storage(I have one)
Grill chef– assorted grilling tools & utensils, long grill lighters, aprons, fireproof gloves, charcoal & more….
Meat Smoker– assorted wood chips-apple, mesquite, pecan, walnut, wire racks…
Fireplace/fire pit- long fireplace matches (often brass holders can be found), fire starters (chips and logs), fire poker & tools, kindling (make your own bundles of dry twigs and branches), firewood (split or purchase), fireproof hearth mat, andirons…..
Gardener– watering cans, pruners, loppers, designer gloves, unique tools, seeds, new hoses, garden clogs, outdoor storage bins, bulbs, Amaryllis bulbs, plant hangers, etc.
Beach Goer- beach bags, flip flops, hats, T-shirts, chairs, assorted sand/beach toys, towels, etc.
Interior Decorator– craft paints & brushes, interior/exterior, stains, twine, spray paints (Ace Premier-has nice wide angle spray & quick dry), oil lamps & colored lamp oil, shore themed wall plaques & décor, lamp/lighting parts- (create a cool lamp with driftwood, bottle, stack of vintage books), hang a family vintage plate (plate hangers), wall & furniture decals, stencils, welcome mats….how about new brass switch plates?
Kids- assorted indoor/outdoor toys, games, puzzles, crafts, stuffed animals, T-shirts.
Handyperson– (sneak an inventory for needs if possible) drill bits, socket sets, wire cutters, twine, duct tape, oil can, WD40, all in one wrench, saw blades-circular, hack….
Car Buff- Old fashioned Turtle Wax, dash and upholstery cleaners, tire cleaner, De-icer, ice scrapers, spray Gunk engine cleaner, Dry gas, deodorizer, floor mats, tire pressure gage, wiper blades, windshield de-fogger, shammy cloths, car buffer head/pads…
Fisher/Crabber– poles, line, lures, sinkers, crab net, crab trap, fish net, grip gloves, bait bucket, knife, fishing hat, chair…..
Visit these cool shops and tell them JERSEYSHORESCENE SENT YOU! Make someone smile this time-do it different. Relax and do a one shop stop!