Column: Getting more than a stud finderI stopped in at the new Pellicci Ace Hardware store last week to pick up a stud finder. While I was there, owner Mark Pellicci asked me what I thought of the new place. I don’t think he expected my reply.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
I stopped in at the new Pellicci Ace Hardware store last week to pick up a stud finder. While I was there, owner Mark Pellicci asked me what I thought of the new place. I don’t think he expected my reply.
“It smells like a hardware store,” I said, with a little emphasis on “smells.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad?” he asked.
“Oh,” said I, “it’s definitely a good thing.”
And here’s why: I grew up in hardware stores.
The first six years of my life, my dad worked at Wilfhart’s Ace Hardware in New Ulm. We moved to Gaylord when I was in first grade so my folks could open a Gambles store. The store closed when I was in fourth grade, but my dad found a new job with OK Hardware later that year.
We moved to Hastings when I was going into sixth grade because my dad had started doing store planning and design for the OK Hardware company. OK Hardware became Trustworthy Hardware while I was in high school, and in college, the company was acquired by Coast to Coast, which was later acquired by United Hardware.
By the time I started covering Farmington in 1994, my dad had started working for Ace Hardware again, this time, as the company’s store planner. He helped the Pelliccis open their previous location.
I can remember going to Wilfhart’s as a little girl. Believe it or not, that was back when snowmobiles were first introduced. Dad got one, and apparently became one of the most well-known snowmobile racers in southern Minnesota back then. I remember crawling around on them when Mom and I would go to the store to pick him up.
I also remember the awesome toy spread they had in the basement of their store. Come to think of it, that was where I uttered my first semi-swear word when I couldn’t get a Barbie I wanted. “Crap.” That didn’t go over well. A girl remembers things like that.
I think I was getting in the way when they were setting up the new store in Gaylord, because they gave me a fly swatter and set me to work in front of the open doors. It seemed important at the time, but now I know better.
I loved that store of ours. I’d walk down there almost every day after school. I’d sit in one of the recliners, sip a 10 cent bottle of Orange Crush from the pop machine in the loading dock (which had a hand-pulled elevator in it) and take my pick from the row of televisions on sale. There I would sit, watching Tom and Jerry and Leave it to Beaver, until the store closed. When I got sick, I slept on the beds on the sales floor or curled up in the office near my mom while she was doing paperwork.
I was on a register by the time I was 9 years old. My brother could assemble entire bicycles by age 4, only needing Dad to tighten up the screws and nuts when he was done. I showed people where things were. I wrapped presents. I even got to help pick out the new toys we would sell, then priced them when they came off the truck. Really, it was my first job.
In college, I helped Dad with store liquidations on breaks, or I worked buying shows at the old Civic Center in St. Paul. I even worked at the Trustworthy Hardware in Mankato for two years doing a lot of the same things I did at our store.
My folks both retired in 2007. These days, they take their motorhome and head south for the winter. They’ve taken up rock collecting. (Dad: “We went rock hunting yesterday.” Me: “Did you catch any?”)
Last year, he bought all this machinery -– templates and a special saw and an elaborate rock tumbler system. They go up into the hills of Arizona and find chunks of quartz and other big rocks. They bring them home, Dad cuts them down and polishes them, Mom makes jewelry and fun little knick-knacks.
It’s a whole different life for all of us. My sister never knew the hardware store life. She was born our first year in Hastings. Honestly, I don’t think about it much anymore, myself.
That is, unless I walk into Pellicci’s. It’s safe to say, hardware is a good smell.