“While I sweep up the wrappers I watch the other rituals of morning: Mr. Halpert unlocking the laundry’s handcart from its mooring to a cellar door, Joe Cornacchia’s son-in-law stacking out the empty crates from the delicatessen, the barber bringing out his sidewalk folding chair, Mr. Goldstein arranging the coils of wire which proclaim the hardware store is open, the wife of the tenement’s superintendent depositing her chunky 3-year old with a toy mandolin on the stoop, the vantage point from which he is learning the English his mother cannot speak.” –Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Jacobs does a wonderful job bringing out the true color and vibrancy of seemingly mundane everyday people and experiences. Just as these people and events that she witnesses are instrumental in her everyday “ritual”, the employees of Belle Hardware on McMechen Street are a wonderful ingredient in the various rituals of many local residents. The store is centrally located between the MICA campus, the Bolton Hill residential neighborhood, and lower-income housing areas. It is can be easily walked to from all of these places, and there is also a large parking lot that serves them as well as the surrounding businesses. Because it is next to a grocery store, a launder mat, and a Rite Aid, it is very convenient to come to this shopping center for all sorts of common chores and shopping. Due to its prime location and to the nature of a hardware store, this is often a critical place for all types of people from around the neighborhood to visit on a regular basis. They are well aware of their diverse demographic, so they keep in stock items appropriate for MICA students (bottle openers), construction workers (industrial saws), home owners (gardening tools), and small DIY projects (spray paint) alike. The prices are reasonable for most people and the employees are very knowledgeable and patient to help you with even the most obscure projects, not just for their “big ticket” customers. It is also a much more personable and manageable experience than going to a massive Home Dept or Lowes. These factors make it a very desirable and convenient place for all types of people to come for help. As I purchased a can of WD-40, I asked an employee if it were acceptable to take a photograph inside the store of him, he gladly agreed, and was quick to proudly point out that Belle was recently rated the “Best Local Hardware Store” in the City Paper, and gave me a copy to keep. Keep up the good work guys, I’ll be back soon for more!