Alluring hardware stores 

Old-fashioned, fascinating and jammed.

click to enlarge READY TO GO: Kraftco's sleds.
  • READY TO GO: Kraftco's sleds.
True, honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned hardware stores — not the (sometimes) scary mega-warehouses like Home Depot and Lowe’s — are of incredible interest to me. It’s the eclectic collection of things you can buy there, all crammed into one small space, that grabs my shopping attention. It was in a crowded hardware store in Genoa, Italy, that my husband and I found an inexpensive mezzaluna, a half-moon shaped knife used to chop herbs. We had searched the city’s medieval twisting streets for half the day before we asked the locals in broken Italian where we could find a knife store, and that’s where they sent us. Kraftco Hardware (6711 Cantrell Road, 666-5471) is where I’d send a visitor from out of town if they were looking for things like cast iron cookware, galvanized metal watering cans or old-fashioned push-mowers, all in an old-fashioned setting. The store’s been in business since 1950, and I imagine little has changed since then. There are several friendly and knowledgeable people on staff to point you in the right direction. When asked by a customer if the store carried painting supplies, I overheard the salesperson reply in the affirmative and then say, “We’ll put you in the painting mood.” Sleds were on display near the front door, in time for Christmas and the snow predicted for later in the week. Nearby were snow shovels for $21.98. For those who like to stay inside by the fire during freezing temperatures, Kraftco carries a large selection of fireplace accessories, from screens to tools in brass and black finishes. For warmer weather pursuits, there are barbecue grill accessories and tool kits, various sizes and types of pruning shears, potting soil, hoes, rakes and spades. A tabletop grill is $5.98. You’ll find the cast iron cookware — along with kettles, pots and alarm clocks — in the center of the store. There are also knives, sharpeners and cutting boards. Next to that are displays of paste wax for furniture and floors. Tucked on a shelf in the corner are ceramic items, including a 3-gallon butter churn, pitchers and bowls. Nails in all sizes. Screws, ditto. Hammers. Flashlights. Batteries. Ice cream makers. The works. Jennifer McGahee, the former owner of the Heights stationery store By Invitation Only, has opened a card and stationery store with her sister in Russellville. The Paper Train, located in an old rail car at 419 W. Parkway, offers gifts, invitations, personalized stationery and note cards. The phone number is 479-967-2737.

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