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SAK’s in old fashioned hardware stores

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by David Nowlin, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    On a recent vacation to the North Carolina Smoky Mountain area we found ourselves in a Mast Hardware store. Looking at all kinds of stuff just like I remember when i was a kid. Low and behold in the knife cases they had just about every Victorinox model behind the glass to gaze upon. I did suggest using some glass cleaner to take care of the fresh drool deposited by yours truly.
    Prices were a little higher than internet but not outrageous so.
    Anyone have this or a similar experience?
    Think next time i’ll buy one I don’t have to commemorate the outing. That’s my excuse!
    Storm 8593, pfranze78, jux t and 3 others like this.
  2. paulhilborn

    paulhilborn Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    We have an Ace Hardware in our town that has truly been here as long as I can remember (57 yrs) and I only recall one owner prior to the current owner and he worked there through high school and ended up buying the place. This place is glorious, you can smell the oil n grease as they do repairs in the rear of the store, wooden isle's that creak as you walk them, you can actually buy a single nut or bolt instead of a pack or large container!!! I bought my first Schrade USA there as a kid as well as my first Case knife in 1970 with my lawn mowing money (yep, I was 7 yrs old back then) they handled Schrade until it's demise and choose not to go the Taylor route, instead they went with Frost cutlery:eek::eek::eek:

    We have two other, very nice and modern hardware stores in town but it's special stepping back in time when you go into Ace:cool::thumbsup:
  3. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    What state and town? We went to the Hendersonville NC Mast Hardware store.
    Not sure if all their stores have the exact same knives? We are going up again next week on business so may try that commemoration angle?
  4. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Sadly I've never had such an experience, but at least my locally owned Ace does have maybe 10 models available.
  5. kwick72

    kwick72 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 17, 2013
    It's really cool when you stumble across a knife display when it wasn't expectant.
    I miss the old hardware stores when you could buy nails and screws by the pound.
    The people working there had some general knowledge on things and could be helpful with advice,
    This gets lost in the big chain stores.
    bruno_go and Getting older like this.
  6. SLD


    Sep 20, 2001
    Were you at the original Mast General store in Valle Crucis? I love going there and visiting the knife shop.
  7. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Went to the Mast stores in Hendersonville and Waynesville, NC. We always look for Small Town America when we go on Vacation.
    jmh33 likes this.
  8. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Not much small town America left.... Walmart (or similar), Lowes, Home Depot and so forth have slowly nudged the small hardware stores aside. The distance perception has changed over time to the point where driving 20 miles to Ace Hardware is not uncommon. We have quite a few Ace Hardwares (all owned by one family) and I believe one or two other hardware stores linked to the TruValue national chain. Ace here pretty much only carries the better selling Vics. The Ace formula allows for individual stores to carry the kinds of merchandise that interests the local folks. Yes, you can still buy a single bolt or nut at Ace; in fact they have quite a selection. I visit my local Ace probably a couple times a week on average. I was there today in fact looking for something.

    I grew up with these wonderful mom & pop hardware stores. Bought my first Case Barlow there as a pre-teen. I also enjoy hitting these old hardware stores when I'm out and about.
  9. David Nowlin

    David Nowlin Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Well said. The Mast Stores are in a slightly different category. More of a “General Store”.
    But as far as knives are concerned all are throw backs to a gentler time. Slower pace lifestyle. Jmho.
    The thing i like about the smaller hardware stores and the old time General stores is the customer service is outstanding.
    Imo worth paying a little more, and i will this week as i’m heading that way this week.

    Just to be clear i happen to work for a very big, Big Box DIY store.
    Storm 8593 likes this.
  10. Half/Stop

    Half/Stop Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 25, 2014
    I totally agree with you guys about Ace Hardware. When I was a kid there were three or four locally owned hardware stores in every nearby town. They all sold many brands of knives, including Sak’s. Most sold firearms and ammo. Of course they sold everything you needed that was hardware related. Now Ace is the only local store that comes close to fitting that description. With the exception of firearms, which we all know is totally different these days. Most of our local Ace stores sell a good selection of Sak’s.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
    David Nowlin likes this.
  11. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I also liked the hardware-general store approach. One such store about 15 miles away from where I grew up was a favorite. They carried a broad selection of firearms there in addition to outdoor clothing (woolrich) as well as traditional hardware items (nuts, bolts, plumbing stuff, fertilizer, seed, etc). My first Woolrich coat came from there as did a number of rifles I purchased as a teen. I suppose most modern hardware stores fall into that category these days with a more diversified line except for the firearms. The '68 Gun Control Act pretty much killed many "hardware" stores carrying guns. I don't really know why exactly although at the time, it was certainly a big deal.

    My local ACE hardware carries SAKs, Case, Frost, Leatherman, and Vic multi-tools. So, I guess you get to see a broad price range for knives and related items.
  12. Daedric Panther

    Daedric Panther Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 27, 2019
    I occasionally see the tinker and classic sd models being sold at ACE hardware, but that’s about it. I’d love to see more stores carry them though
  13. cudgee

    cudgee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 13, 2019
    It is the same here in Australia. Bunnings a massive hardware chain killed off every hardware store in the suburbs and large rural cities. You could buy everything by the amount YOU needed, not what they deemed you had to buy. Your masters chain tried to compete with them but failed miserably. You can still find a few in the smaller country towns, but they are disappearing slowly. The mystic of these hardware stores was you never knew what was inside when you walked through the front door, and they had a special smell, it was almost as if it was a hands on working mans smell. I really do not think most of the kids of today know what they are missing, simply because they are not interested in all those things that we grew up with. If it does not have a screen, they do not want to know, and they certainly could not, or want to make something from scratch or fix something. They just buy a new item, or throw out a perfectly good working item to replace it with the latest advertised item. Sad, but that is the way it is in the modern world.
  14. Earl1


    May 11, 2016
    We are blessed here where i live. There are 2 hardware stores that are private owned stores. Both at least 50 years old. There are case knife displays as well as a few saks. You can go in buy cast iron skillets , nuts and bolts amd nails either single or by the pound. Both sell chainsaws weedeaters and supplies. Always smiling faces to help you. It truly is something that is disappearing as the larger corporate chaims push the small man out.
    Storm 8593 and bruno_go like this.
  15. Piso Mojado

    Piso Mojado Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    There were lots of independent hardware stores in the Chicago area through the 1980s, and my wife's uncle owned and operated one in Skokie. Most of them sold a small selection of pocket knives with Case as their top of the line. The only SAK I saw was the Recruit and I thought that was the Swiss Army Knife. In 1981 or 1982, while I was using my Recruit to perform some chore, a friend said "That's not a knife" and opening his attache case, he produced a seven-layer Champion and said "That's a knife!" Yes, we beat the Croc by a few years but I doubt we were an influence.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  16. JohnWE

    JohnWE Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 7, 2013
    Hardware stores; like the tools within them are the stuff dreams are made of.
  17. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    None of the Ace Hardware stores in my area carry any pocketknives at all. The only knives they do carry are Stanley or similar-type razor utility knives. Back around 2007 there was one local Ace that had a display of Case, Gerber and Victorinox SAKs, but it wasn't long before it was gone. I guess around here, pocketknives don't sell at Ace.

    When I was a kid, there was a small, family-owned hardware store in the beach area that had a big Schrade display. Back in the '70s, I bought my first pocketknives there. That hardware store had been there I don't know how many decades, but it finally closed last year. Several years before they closed, the only pocketknives they sold were like something you might find at a gas station, car wash, or auto parts shop. But for the longest time, even post-2K, they had that old Schrade display case with some of the same vintage knives I remembered back 30 years previously. I guess they never completely sold all of that old product.

  18. Ace Rimmer

    Ace Rimmer

    Jul 4, 2017
    This is not a SAK-specific story, but I wanted to contribute my hardware store experience. We travel up through Indiana once or twice a year on our way to visit family in Michigan. After years of taking "The Dave*" around Indianapolis we've started looking for alternate routes that bypass that city altogether. One of those routes take us through a little town where I spotted a hardware store with a big Case sign on the side. Sadly, we always seemed to pass through too late in the evening or on a Sunday when they were closed. Finally, one rainy day last fall we got there during business hours and I was able to go in. It's a great store where you can get anything you might need, just as you would expect in a small rural community located miles and miles from a major population center. They had a decent Case display and I got to talk knives with one of the staff who is a knife enthusiast (he carries a Case cheetah). I bought a 2011 old red bone SS swayback gent and my wife bought a pair of work gloves and an edging shovel.

    *Dave Letterman once told the story of how he tried to get them to designate the I-465 loop around Indianapolis as "The Dave" (cf. the way highways around Chicago are named). Of course it didn't happen, but ever since we've jokingly referred to the I-465 loop as "The Dave".

    (Picture taken on our return trip on a sunny Sunday afternoon.)

    Storm 8593 and bruno_go like this.
  19. Case C.

    Case C. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 27, 2017
    I remember as a kid in the hardware store drooling over the glass cases with SAK's , Case and Schrade in the 70's. That was the end of an era in hardware. I was 19 when I got my first hardware store job at an Ace in 1989 and I worked for OSH in 1997. I got my first knife at 5 years old and it was an old Imperial that I found and it had a pen blade and a file blade and on the other side a scissors. It was yellow cracked ice scales and I believe it probably was from around the 1950's. It was beat up but the blade and scissors were still very sharp other than the tip of the pen blade was chipped off. I got my first brand new knife in 1978 and it was a Schrade mini lock back that was like a Buck type look that was a Christmas gift from my brother. He now has it and it's still like new and never been used. It came from the gas station he worked at as a teenager and it was sold through Mac Tools in a glass case with all Mac / Schrade knives in it. They were well made then and that was about the end of when they were. It's funny that I now carry a knife that's like the first knife I ever had at 5 years old. It's a SAK Ambassador with the same configuration of Pen blade, nail file and scissors.
    Storm 8593 and Ace Rimmer like this.
  20. mnblade


    Feb 7, 2000
    At about age 10 I had pretty much free rein on my bike. On my trips to town for baseball cards and candy, there were three other regular stops for me, where I could drool over "fancy" knives I knew I couldn't afford: Two old school hardware shops, and one sporting goods shop that was 90% hunting and fishing. All three carried Schrade and Buck ...... and of course, Victorinox! And all three tolerated me just looking and looking and looking. Forty years have passed and I still carry knives from all three of these makers. Got a Vic Waiter in my pocket right now.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019

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