Milwaukee has its share of institutions that are part of what makes this a unique city.
One of my favorite, and most valuable, is National Hardware, which has a South Side location but which has been Downtown forever. It used to be on the 3rd Street but now is on the corner of McKinley and 4th.
People used to say, and many still do, that if you can't find it anywhere else in town, go to National and they'll have it.
Certainly they have all the stuff that other hardware stores, including the giants like Home Depot and Lowe's, have. But it's the service and the back counter that make things so interesting.
I've always lived in old places and when it came time to fix a wiring problem or a plumbing problem, National always had the right part, many times a used part, that did the job perfectly.
Recently, I lost keys to my home and figured I had to put in all new locks. To National I went and stood in front of a vast array of locks. Then the voice piped up from the back counter.
"Need a new lock?" I said yes. "You sure?" he asked.
After a little discussion it was determined that he could just rekey the lock for me and I'd be good to go. Instead of big bucks and lots of headaches replacing all the locks, it was a 15-minute job that cost me under $10 and off I went.
I don't know any other hardware store in Milwaukee with so many people who know so damn much about hardware and who are so nice to share information with you where it doesn't cost a damn thing.
Again, places like National Hardware are what give Milwaukee it's unique character and continue to make this a special place to live.
I am impressed that a guy who doesn't wash his own car knows what a hardware store is. Damn impressed. Title sucked though.
I love National Ace!
Unfortunately, their other location (which had been walking distance from our house) has closed, having been replaced by a dollar store. Luckily, for their staff and customers, many of the south side employees now work at the downtown location. They're all knowledgeable and helpful.
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