Discuss I've got one somewhere in the Electrical Tools and Products area at ElectriciansForums.net


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This is a hardware shop in Market Harborough called Frank Gilberts run by Frank himself since who knows when. It is rammed floor to ceiling with all manner of things and somewhere in front of the chap being served is the wonderful Frank at his counter peephole surrounded by stock. He must be in his 70s and when he passes so will this treasure of a shop I don't think I have been in there and failed to come out with what I was looking for.20240319_130212.jpg
I used to live opposite a similar old school iron mongers many years ago, knew the staff very well. If they didn't have it on the shelves out front they'd almost certainly have it out back.... if you could spare the time to find it!
These sort of places, if you ask “frank” or whatever the name of the old guy is behind the counter, if he’s got a certain thing, of a certain size (imp, not metric) …. He’ll be able to tell you A- if he’s got one, and B- which shelf it’s on.

Oh… and cash only. Doesn’t take cards… can do you a deal and has at least £300 in his back pocket of various denominations….. for transactions that don’t need to go through the till, wink wink
He does actually take cards now when he can find the PDQ. Went in looking for a sink plug and chain he came out with an old Sainsbury's bag from under the counter full of them. He wraps it all in tissue paper then into a brown paper bag selotaped up.
Lady in front of me wanted a couple of stainless teapots this was the only place should could find them. Ended up buying them along with six sharp knives, scrubbing brushes and polishes spent £115 because while he was wrapping the teapots all this stuff was there in her eyeline😂😂
Lady in front of me wanted a couple of stainless teapots this was the only place should could find them. Ended up buying them along with six sharp knives, scrubbing brushes and polishes spent £115 because while he was wrapping the teapots all this stuff was there in her eyeline😂😂
Obviously went to the same school of retail as Arkwright.

This is the equivalent local to me,

Valve shop.PNG
I bet he hasn't got any fo(u)rk C(H)andles.

Lovely looking shop :)

Edit.. I should have read the other threads. I thought I was being very clever.
There used to be 2 or 3 shops like that round St Helens, one was very much like an Arkwright's for engineers although they did quite a bit of the usual hardware stuff they were the goto especially for the oddball engineering bits as they had a good stock of imperial nuts, bolts and machine screws and the taps and dies as well another place was like a rabbit warren went in one day to buy some bits and they asked if I would have a look at some faulty lights in one of the store rooms up some stairs and down some stairs and up some more stairs at the far end of the premises passing racks of all sorts of stuff they had a habit of ordering in 10 if the customer only wanted 5 because they got a better price I told many times that as some of the stock was obsolete they should get it up on the web for those people looking for parts to match what they were refurbing and make some money on it
Love these old junk shops , sadly very few and far between these days

I remember about 10 years ago visiting the inlaws in Sailsbury and they had a little junk shop where you could buy individual screws, washers, plug top fuses etc. They even had spoils of cable on a small rack and sold it buy the metre.
I have memories of a couple of ironmongers shops of the old school...everything you could want, all in cardboard boxes, staff members in brown coats and knew where everything was...
For those of you familiar with Glasgow, we had Catani and Crocketts and Bill's Tool Store
Many years ago, the big shop in the city centre closed...the one that sold screws, hinges, nuts and bolts, taps, shotgun cartridges, crossbows and sinks (I told you it was a while back!)
The older gent who owned it got totally pi$$ed off by the introduction of VAT which made his stocktaking a nightmare that he sold out and retired to spend his later years on his lovely yacht...with his second wife, who had been in his daughter's year at school!
Much more recently I discovered a wonderful shop near me in Spain which has the posh "front shop" with all the usual expensive stuff for the rich to equip their villas, but step into the rear warehouse and it's an Alladin's cave of true wonder! You can get component parts to mend a pendant light fixture, a spare bubble for a spirit level (I jest, but not by much) the exact size of grub screw, sold singly, to re-attach a door handle or loo roll holder, and every size of nut, bolt and washer, in every type of finish, and all sold singly...
Need a wing-nut? 100 to choose from
Need some threaded rod? Look no further
Lugs and terminals, spades or forks? Yup, got the lot!
Racks and racks of shelves and bins, just an amazing throwback...and all the local guys go there because they know they can find absolutely every type of fastener...
and, they still stock exactly the same type of window-stay that's been used for 100 years...well, why wouldn't you?
Sometimes I just buy stuff there whether I need it or not because it's just a glorious emporium...you need a fitting that's 50 years old? OK, no problem, we have plenty of those!
They make their money from the posh sales, but they also do pretty well from the sale of those traditional items that just get repaired time and time again, because the locals love it!
You will not find any Wagos there! I took the proprietor a sample pack and he liked them, but told me the locals won't buy them because they are new technology! Yes, the new and younger guys buy new stuff, but the traditional stuff still sells...you can get terminal screws for sockets, every tiny component you can imagine...
I bought 4 small bolts (a pack of three in the supermarket was €2) for 50 cents,,,they don't even bother to price them except by weight...and if it's just one washer you need they just give you it cos it's not worth ringing it up.
I am a sad person, but I can spend ages in that back shop!
Sometimes you find an item that is so old the dust is thick on it...take it to the counter and they have absolutely no idea what it's cost is, so they just stick it in your bag free of charge if you have bought, say, a frying pan or a vase...
good old-fashioned stock, with service to match!
Be under no illusion though, they know where there customer base is! Yes, they give stuff away to the small buyer and locals, but they also hold the exclusive rights to sell, in their area, the most popular sunbeds in the world! Yup, no matter if you buy from them, or any other shop in the region, they get a cut on every single one!
They don't do much electricals, that's for the guy up the street, but if you want some cheap hand tools...cutters for €3, screwdriver sets for €10, spanners and saws very cheap...ok, not great quality, but so cheap you can throw them away after 2 jobs and buy new ones.
Cordless tools are VERY expensive though...the 10V DeWalt drill is €100, and the 18V Combi is nearer €200...

One for fun...I asked if it was possible to buy a new toilet roll holder roller on its own...you know, the spring-loaded spindle that passes through the cardboard tube?
Yes, of course Senor...what length do you want? We have 3 sizes.
€1...which I thought was a bit pricey tbh!
Went to Cockermouth recently and they have a hardware shop very similar.
Even has a museum upstairs with all old tools and stuff.
Free to browse round.
I could have spent hours just looking at stuff.
Need a wing-nut? 100 to choose from
Need some threaded rod? Look no further
Lugs and terminals, spades or forks? Yup, got the lot!
Why have I got that song from The Little Mermaid going round in my head….

I think a lot of small towns still have a hardware store like this.
My home town, they have an electricians that work out one of the main streets… not some fancy unit on the industrial estate. Stores, offices and workshop in one (could be 3) properties at the quiet end of the street…. And the shop at the other.

It’s a bit full now as they are a Euronics seller…. But once you get past the washing machines in the window…. You’re back to doormats, lightbulbs, flex, chain, string by the metre… or yard, possibly..

There’s a bare wooden staircase lined with the pik-a-pak items leading up to an alladins cave of all sorts…

And the obligatory brown coats

Of course, the same town has another, more modern hardware store that caters for a certain clientele…. Out in the business park… next to the Aldi

The Farmers

Blue water pipe and fittings… the nuts and bolts of every size…. Electric fence components…… there’s also a key cutting machine in the middle of it all.
Yellow and black power tools that aren’t quite dewalt…. Red power tools that aren’t quite Milwaukee and a range of hand tools that aren’t quite useful.

Weird thing is…. They’re both called Stewart’s.

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