There is an Ace Hardware store within walking distance from my house. It’s a really small store, yet it seems to have exactly what I need every time I go there. You can find things easily, the employees are helpful, and it’s never crowded. In other words, it’s exactly the opposite of a Home Depot or Lowe’s.
Neighborhood stores like this can survive (barely) in my area because there is no land to build “big box” retail stores. But in the suburbs they don’t stand a chance — they simply can’t match the price and selection of their bigger competitors. For me, it’s worth paying a little more and having less to choose from in order to avoid the stress of long lines and time wasted aimlessly wandering the aisles while dodging obese people on electric scooters.
I try to use locally-owned, neighborhood stores when I can. It’s just one small way to slow down the “Walmartization” of America.
UPDATE: After posting this, I ran cross this post on Seth Godin’s blog. I’ve had the exact same thing happen to me at Home Depot.