Best Hardware Store

Kirkwood Hardware

Twin brothers Bob and Jim Margherio opened their Kirkwood Hardware store three decades ago, yet it's still humming. How can a 5,000-square-foot retailer survive in the age of the big-boxes? Simple, says manager Jeff Armstrong: customer service. Whether it's painting, plumbing or electrical, he and his staff have done it all with their own calloused hands, and they'll always slow down and offer thoughtful advice — unless, that is, you need your power tools fixed ASAP or your keys copied in a jiffy. Local contractors favor the shop because the in-and-out is quick: no big parking lot, towering aisles or long checkout lines. Certain old-school policies remain in practice, such as running tabs for familiar folks and even lending out tools. "We're on the honor system here," Armstrong says. "It's either sell them a $30 tool or let them borrow it. Yeah, I missed a $30 sale. But I gained a customer. And our customers are loyal."

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