I went to Beaver Woodworking Supplies the other day, just to browse - in the middle of the day - on Monday. Nice to be the owner huh?
I did buy some brushing lacquer just so I can try it some day. While there I asked if they sold hardwood. NO, just some sheet stock. So I asked if there were any hardwood dealers that they could recommend and they told me about "Sunnyline Builders" in East Bridgewater. I found the place on my way home, and checked it out.
OK, I am going to try, but I think my limited skills in writing is going to be SEVERLY limiting.
There is absolutely NO way I am going to paint an accurate picture in your mind but try to imagine what I am going to attempt to describe to you.
In years gone by like 1940's or 1950's you could go to a hardware store. The front of the store had the hardware and the back of the store had the lumber. Store had wood floors maybe a bell on the door (Ding) and the floors creaked as you walked on them. There would be a register on the counter towards the back of the store. You remember the OLD registers. Lots of ornate trim work. The guy pushed the number keys and the numbers popped up in the screen area, and the drawer popped open. Lots of items for sale - hanging on the walls, some stuff on shelves. Maybe a woodstove nice and warm near the stove.
OK - if you have a picture - POP that bubble - sort of. No really develop it in your mind.
Now - I find the store. I have passed it so many times, and thought I should check it out. This store is halfway between where I live and the area I work in. I travel about 40 miles and it is at about 30 miles from home.
Well, the storefront looks like 1950's. Not a restored kind of 1950's. The restored look, "looks" restored. Restored look looks NEW. No, this place IS, IS 1950's. It has never been changed from the original 1950's, much less been maintained either. Wood porch out in front is one step up from the dirt parking area in front of the store.
It was dusk when I got there. One old 1980's vintage pickup truck in front. I stepped up onto the porch, and the place was dimly lit. I honestly thought they were closed, but I tried the door anyway. Lo and behold it opened, but I still thought they were closed, but just not locked up. I stepped inside, but still thought they were closed, gone, and just didn't lock up. Weird!!!
When I stepped inside, there was no place to move. The store was so JAMMED with STUFF I could not move. I said hellloooooo. Lo - there was a voice behind the STUFF off in the dim distance. The voice said just a minute, I'm on the phone, I'll be right with you. OK I said to the voice. Now I could tell the direction it came from but could see only stuff, and literally no room to move.
Between the stuff piled up all over the place, there were a couple of extreme narrow paths, but you had to be careful not to step on anything.
The stuff was an array of collectables. Antiques. Old planes, wooden life-size hand carved statues, from around the world. A 4x4 post about 10' long looked like walnut. Tools new, used, old, antique. A Freud router bit display hanging on the wall. You would have to climb on top of stuff to get to it. It was covered with a HEAVY layer of dust as well as everything else.
You simply could not see into the corners of the place. Partly because the few old florescent lights were dust covered and didn't spread much light, but also because there was stuff plied from floor to ceiling. Antique dolls, antique trains. Toys, tools, old and new interspersed. Just a menagerie, of stuff.
He hung up the phone and came out to talk to me. OK, I could see how he moved through the paths between the stuff. OK, I can do that. I asked him if he had any hardwood for sale. YES, he told me. He has all sorts of hardwood. Come I will show you. I followed him through the paths to the beck of the store and towards a door in the back of the store. Honestly - I would have never thought you could actually GET there, but he did.
He opened the door and flicked on a light. Remember, 1950's. ONE light hanging from the ceiling. Oh forget about finding the string to pull and put the light on. There was a light switch. If you ever tried to go into that room without a light on - you would die. You would trip, knock the lumber over and it would bury you alive. Oh yeah, he had lumber. Lots and Lots of lumber. I would say about 10 times more than could be safely stored in that back room. NO room to walk. No REALLY - NO room on the floor. REALLY - there is no open floor at all. The room is filled with lumber. Some standing vertical and some stored horizontal.
It looked to be all mixed up. Didn't appear to be any order at all, but for sure there was a gold mine of every imaginable domestic and exotic hardwood in that room. Even the guy didn't step into the room. We just stood there and looked. He told me that I should come back in the daytime. We would be able to see better.
I didn't buy anything Monday, but I am going to go back for some Walnut when I am ready to build my clocks.
As we were making our way back to the front of the store we looked at an antique hand carved elephant. Dave - the store owner, told me that his father got it years ago. He said it was one solid piece of wood that weighed 750 pounds. It was about 50-52 inches tall, about 48-50 inches long and about 36 round at the belly. HUGE. We also looked at Asian or African hand carved warrior statues, life-size. Quality is unimaginable. His father was a collector, as I guess he is too.
Well, I told him I was a hobby woodworker, and I needed a good hardwood supplier. He told me he could machine the wood for me also. He has an 18" jointer as well as an 18" planer. OLD heavy cast iron tools, not the new stuff. That didn't surprise me.
I don't know if you read all that, and I don't know if I painted the picture, but I tried. What a place is all I can say. If you are ever in East Bridgewater Ma. this is a must see.
Sounds like an episode of the twilight zone.
You'll never find that store again now, you know that don't you? :)
Orrr, you'll find it and it'll be shut down since 1970 and you'll be told by a passing neighbour that the owner died 35 years ago, etc etc...
Either that or every piece that's bought comes with an interesting "Free gift" in the shape of good or bad luck depending on whether you screw over the owner.
Sounds like you found a gold mine Leo! Thanks for sharing. I have a real vivid picture of what the place is like and I wish I could visit it just one time, but, you know, you just can't get there from here.
I worked at a store like that in Amherst MA, when I was in college. It wasn't a hardware store, but more like a general goods store catering to the college crowd. I was asked to clean out the attic and found a box of drafting equipment and a NIB slide rule in a leather case, solid mahogany-just beautiful. The price tag said $3.00 and the date code was from the middle 1950's.
I asked the owner if he would sell it to me and for how much. He said well, this is a store, so I sell things and it's marked $3.00 so that's the price. It's still in good condition so I don't feel inclined to discount it more than your employee discount.
I got it for $2.40, plus tax.
I gave it to my nephew when he went into engineering school.
Nice store, nice people. It's still there, but it's much more modern now. A. J. Hastings, Inc.