A sad day for snowbird capital Quartzsite

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By Russ De Maris

When you’re a kid, and your eyes are big and wide, taking it all in, there are some things that just won’t ever change. One of them is Grampa. Bigger than life, full of fun, and a good lap to cuddle on – there’s nobody like Grampa. Life without Grampa would just be unimaginable. And for a kid, Grampa will always be there. Until something happens – and Grampa, bless him, isn’t there.

SAD NEWS IN QUARTZSITE
Now, that “something” looks to be happening in Quartzsite, Arizona. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a kid, kicking back on Grampa’s lap. But there’s always been a fixture like Grampa for me in Quartzsite, since the first time I ever landed in that desert berg in the winter of 1996. When the floor fell out of our truck camper’s bathroom, Herb’s Hardware was there.

That was the hardware store I took refuge in, buying up many feet of aircraft cable off the bulk reel; then there were turnbuckles and eyebolts from the hardware section. Yep, all sold to me with helpful advice, and with a bit of sweat, we got the old floor jacked up and supported long enough to make the run back to the Northwest where we could do permanent repairs. Couldn’t have done it without Herb’s.

Today I rolled into the parking lot and stopped in front of the big roll-up entry door. A sign over the bulk rolls of Reflectix announced, “20 percent off – All sales final.” Why on earth would they want to fire-sale Reflectix, I wondered. Until the wife pointed to the big banner over the roll-up door that I’d missed. “Store Closing. Everything must go!” It was like I’d just learned that Grampa was terminally ill.

R&T De Maris photos

Maybe Grampa has already succumbed. Inside, the vultures had already gathered. Empty bins in the bulk screw and nail area. Hanging hooks where I’d normally see tools – no tools – just the hooks. Out in the yard, a harassed yard guy chopped me off seven feet of inch-and-an-arf ABS pipe. All that he had left after I walked away was three feet. There would be no more – they’re not restocking anything.

My mind races back over the times that I’ve depended on that outfit. Broken pipes. Blown electrical issues. Countless RV remodel projects over the years. Fighting with crowds in the winter, and the heat in those short summer hours. But, hey, if you needed something – just about anything, it seemed – Herb’s was always just a few minutes away. I became the standing joke among the staffers. If my car or truck turned into the parking lot, it must be just about quitting time. If I showed up more than an hour before closing, there was mock confusion in the ranks.

It seems inconceivable to me that this bedrock institution is rolling up the sidewalk. Sure, the place has been “for sale” for a few years. A couple of deals came up – and went south for one reason or another. Those of us who’ve come to depend on a local shop with helpful staff always just figured, well, somebody’s gonna buy the place. But they didn’t. What’s the option? Keep going at the grind? Or put up a 20- percent-off sale and lock it down?

They tell me that they’ll be open until sometime in April. I don’t think so. The way the stock is vanishing out the big roll-up door, my guess is I’ll make my last pass down empty aisles in the next few weeks.

And like with Grampa, I’ll probably shed a few tears as I do.

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Two Buck Chuck

My Dad said it had everything from spittoons to duct tape. I’ve not made it there and it sounds like I never will.

Debbie L Pettry

You had me scared, my husband and I stayed in Quartzite years ago, before he passed in 2011, a memory I will not forget, we stayed In an RV lot ran by the mayor at the time, we only had to pay electric, for doing painting on the only house on lot, that was being redone for the lot managers home. We met so many people. I would walk from one end of town to the other, to shop at one of the 2 grocery stores, visit shops and such. There were only a few vendors, because we came at wrong time of year for the large swap meet and flea markets. We had planned on going back until he died, now I plan on carrying on that dream, do they still have the large meets, and camping in BLM land?
There was a spot in town were u could camp from Jan to April for around $180 if u were self contained. Anyone have any current information u can email me.
Thanks a future snowbird.

Kip

Thanks Russ. Don’t know you or the store you wrote of but I could relate and can feel your pain.
Be blessed. You’re a blessing.

Robbie

I was in Herb’s hardware last month. Poor selection of overpriced goods with no shelf organization, and no one to help….good riddance!

Tom

Sad, but the small hardware store all over America are going out of business. I always enjoyed Shopping at and still do when I can.

Bob Godfrey

BTW, if anyone is ever in Cocoa, Florida you absolutely must stop at Travis Hardware store. You’d be amazed at everything they carry……even space equipment is available there they purchased in bulk from NASA.

Thomas

Well, at least you can say it wasn’t Wal-Mart that put it out of business. Really sad when old established business passes.

Tommy Molnar

This was one heck of a great old-fashioned hardware store. Sad to see it go.

Martin A

The article says he has a terminal illness, and may have passed already.

Bob Godfrey

I think the sad part of small outfits like this one closing is that they are usually very knowledgeable and can answer almost any question you might have on repairing something whereas you’re on your own at the big box stores. Good luck out there!

tom

It is nice that there are some of these old-fashioned hardware stores around. Big Blue and Big Orange
does not stock everything one might need. Unfortunately, it’s all about the $$$. And they are hard work.

WEB

OK, I’ll bite, why is it closing?