Wednesday, November 29, 2023


A sad day for snowbird capital Quartzsite

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.

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.

Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Galen L Yoder (@guest_73539)
3 years ago

When in Quartzsite , Herbs Hardware closed,change your shopping to The Bog Market on central, they have more supplies then Herbs for the RV ers.

John d (@guest_73168)
3 years ago

That’s really sad – one of my favorite stores across the country. I was in Q for the winter last year and was in Herbs at least 10 times. At least 5 of those times I had no idea what I needed to solve my problem. Each time they gave me not only the best solution but alternative ways to do it.

Denny Wagaman (@guest_71272)
3 years ago

On another note i wonder how many people will continue to pay their RV payment during this virus issue, And what will happen to them and the RV down the road. I would say the RV market is finished for a while maybe a long while. People might just reassess their priorities (food, shelter, health who knows what else).

Michael (@guest_137359)
2 years ago
Reply to  Denny Wagaman

I guess you’ll need to clean your crystal ball!

Two Buck Chuck (@guest_66820)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66463)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66323)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66289)
3 years ago

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

Bob (@guest_66311)
3 years ago
Reply to  Robbie

Ok, then where did you go? I didn’t find another hardware store in Quartzsite and those junk tent shops sure didn’t have what I needed.

Roy Ellithorpe (@guest_67237)
3 years ago
Reply to  Robbie

Obviously this was your FIRST visit to one of my favorite stores, and while it was in the midst of closing out. Herbs was the bright spot on our winter tour. Well stocked, Well organized, Well priced, Well staffed with helpful and knowledgeable staff. I will miss it.

Tom (@guest_66286)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66278)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66213)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66170)
3 years ago

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

Martin A (@guest_66126)
3 years ago

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

Bob Godfrey (@guest_66125)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66057)
3 years ago

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 (@guest_66014)
3 years ago

OK, I’ll bite, why is it closing?

RV Staff
3 years ago
Reply to  WEB

My guess, WEB, is they’re retiring, since it says that it’s been for sale for a few years but no one bought it. If Russ has a more definitive answer, when he has a minute I’m sure he’ll respond. Just keep in mind that he’s obviously going through the various stages of grieving at the moment. 😉 —Diane at

Bob (@guest_66041)
3 years ago
Reply to  WEB

Probably because one of the “impersonal” big box stores moved nearby. We have had two independent hardware stores close because the could not compete with these gargantuan places opening.
The local owners were always there to help a customer. Try to find someone in the big stores that even know what they are selling. If you can find someone to help!
The prices in the independent stores may be a little higher, but they were there to make a living, not massive profits.

Traveler (@guest_66107)
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob

Not the case in Quartzite.

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