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Life As An ACE Hardware Guy

  1. Picking locks and making keys. Being a locksmith was a fun hobby.

  2. Cutting and threading pipe. It was a lousy job but when someone needed a 37.5” piece of 3/4” black pipe, they needed it bad.

  3. Unloading trucks of salt in the winter and cement in the summer. No fork lifts back then. Two of us would unload 400 bags. And then of course we had to load them into customer’s cars when sold.

  4. Custom mixing paint. No computers back then, actually taking tubes of color, cutting them open, dumping into gallons and putting on the mixing machine. Items of interest back then that the X and Y generation can only shake their heads now include":

  5. Ringing sales on a manual register. Can you imagine anyone making correct change today without being told how much to give back? Oh, credit cards were virtually non-existent. Customers only used cash.

  6. Galvanized garbage cans and washboards. Plastic cans weren’t around and some households didn’t have washing machines.

  7. Cigarettes were $4.99 a carton; Kool was the #1 brand.

  8. $2.99 window shades cut to size were a hot commodity. Window shades with an automatic release were a luxury item.

  9. Ferry Morse vegetable seeds were $.19 a package. Collard and Turnip greens were the best sellers. Being in the city, there were a few really bad incidents:

  10. Being robbed at gun point several times. The worse being when I had to tie up my father with a gun pointed at him and one pointed at me in the office. I had to walk to the registers, open them up and luckily (with everyone on the floor), they only shot the ceiling and walked out.

  11. Having my car stolen twice. Nothing like leaving work and not seeing your car in the lot.

  12. Being punched out for no reason.

  13. A customer wanted to hear how a door chime sounded. So I attached a transformer to the chime and a hot lead with a plug. While I was attaching the lead to the transformer, an employee plugged in the plug. I became the chime, instantly feel to the ground and luckily the employee unplugged the plug. I couldn’t plug anything into an outlet for 3 years. One thing for certain: Life as an ACE hardware guy and life as a wholesale distributor has something in common: You keep on learning and it ain’t easy. Happy Thursday!


Adam Harris was born in coal country, right in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. His father, Gregory, worked the mines every day and came home to his best friend, Jim Beam. Gregory had many frie


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