Most people go to the hardware store in search of maintenance items for those small home improvement projects. But when there's an unexpected emergency such as rolling blackouts hardware stores must be prepared to help then, too. Since the early '30s, Larchmont Hardware has been furnishing one of Los Angeles' more quaint communities with whatever it needs, whether an oddly shaped screw or a hard-to-find washer. When disaster strikes, the small neighborhood store is capable of providing its community with items that fit those occasions as well. Staff reporter Conor Dougherty talked to Russ Wilson, the store's owner, about what people need and how they're able to provide such a large selection.
"The store was opened in 1932. I bought it in 1982. I already owned Koontz Hardware in West Hollywood and I wanted to get another (store). One of the reasons I wanted Larchmont is it is tiny and in a very well established neighborhood. Larchmont Village and Hancock Park are full of boosters of their community. The people who live there are very protective of their community and its reputation, they love it.
"What I really wanted to accomplish was to provide the kind of selection you can only have with a bigger store. We bring that to Larchmont through daily shipments from our well-stocked broad inventory location (Koontz Hardware). This allows us to bring an unusual selection rarely found in a small community store.
"Our customers want to fix whatever breaks in their house. They want plumbing parts, nuts and bolts, cabinet pulls general maintenance stuff. But we also carry stuff that beautifies: kitchenware, unusual gifts and whatever the holiday season entails.
"We're also able to provide for emergencies. Right now everybody wants flashlights and batteries. We also have a large stock of generators at the main store, which we can make available to Larchmont within 15 minutes. But if, say, it's raining, people want plastic sheeting. After the Seattle earthquake we sold several earthquake kits and earthquake wax, to secure people's valuables. People look to a hardware store to solve their household problems but also to get them through any emergencies.
"Most larger stores have no more than 40,000 to 45,000 items. Koontz has about 120,000 different items, which we make available to Larchmont. We don't have room, obviously, for plywood and lumber. But for hardware and houseware items, we have a really broad selection."
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