On Facebook, you can "like" almost anything (and "unlike" it if you change your mind about how you feel about bacon, say), including businesses and institutions. One of my likes is J.E. Rice's Hardware Store in the Manassas Shopping Center not far from where I live, in Manassas. In fact, I wish FB had a "love" button because I more than "like" Rice's: I love it!
I have been going to Rice's, now in its 75th year, for over 30 years. They not only have everything that a hardware store should have: they have some things most hardware stores don't have. And in 30 years of my asking for often odd and arcane items, they have not had what I needed or wanted a grand total of three times. Each time they have told me where I could find what I was looking for, even though it involved going to another store. Service is a key to the Rice's experience, and that's what I call service!
Not only will they figure out the part you need to fix something when you don't know the real name of the part or what it does (Me: "It's this little plastic thingie that fits on the end of a shaft and turns so that it engages this other white plastic or is it nylon thingie to open this little door..." Steve or Jamie or Chase or anyone else who works there: “Yeah, I know what you need. We got it…)
Not only will they sell you a replacement part, they'll tell you how to install it without hurting yourself. This summer I was putting in a garbage disposal for daughter Amy who was on a vacation in the Southwest. The drain set up wasn’t standard so I drew it up and went to Rice’s. Jamie met me, studied my crude diagram, led me to the plumbing parts, took several pieces of pipe and pipe joints and showed me how they fit together.
Well, because I am spatially challenged and don’t know what I’m doing, it took me four hours and four more trips to Rice’s to get the disposal to work without leaking or throwing off sparks. At every revisit, Jamie carefully listened to what I had to say, figured out what I needed and gave it to me with a smile. By the last visit, I think the entire hardware store was cheering for me. It was a great experience.
Much the same thing happened when our furnace stopped dead and would not come back on. It was when we had snow (yes, it was cold enough for snow at one time this winter) and temperatures below freezing. I woke up to a 56 degree house, colder than I like it for sleeping. The thermostat was "calling" for heat ("I am calling yooooooooou!) but the heat wouldn't listen. Or come on. Through clever diagnostic work and deduction (and a check of the internet), I diagnosed the fault as a bad breaker. I toddled off to Rice’s where Jamie listened to my description of the problem agreed that it was probably the breaker, and then sent me to another store because Rice's did not carry that particular brand of breaker (they can be different--who knew?). I got the parts. Jamie had told me how to put them in and warned me about the dangers of electricity with a story about his trying to install an air conditioning unit that shorted out and shocked him, blowing him back across the yard. I needed no further cautionary tales so I took myself back to the furnace, threw the main breaker (for safety and continued existence on this earth), snapped the breaker in and fired that big boy up. Warm air never felt so good.
So, whenever you go to Rice’s you’ll know that you can count on an amazing inventory, a helpful staff and wonderful service. I still don’t know everyone’s names, but you will see Steve, always gracious and ready to talk about a subject of interest; Jamie, whom I mentioned earlier; and Chase, whom I am not as familiar with but a nice fellow, and very knowledgeable, as they all are. And don’t forget the fabulous hardware ladies, Kristin and Patty, who are not only young and energetic: they are knowledgeable and helpful and know their hardware. And they love books and reading. Imagine that. Rice's truly does have it all.