Before Home Depot & Lowe's, there was Rickel's. Al Rickel died at age 90. Al, with his brothers, Mort & Bob, opened their first big store in 1953, helping to kick off the DIY home improvement craze (wood paneling, basement bars & rec rooms, & oh, those kitchen cabinets). The brothers knew almost nothing about the business they were in, but they became fabulously successful at it. Many a Saturday I tagged along with Dad as he drove to Rickel's on Route 22 in Union, then on to Channel a few miles up the highway in Springfield (across from House of Tile) on his "errands." I think Dad preferred Channel. Sometimes he just wanted to get out of the house & look at stuff that provided interesting fantasies. For all the practicality of the merchandise, Rickel's was also selling dreams. The Rickel's chain was sold off in 1969, continued to expand & prosper, then Home Depot, the bigger box, came along & Rickel's went into swift decline. One of the last to close was in the same strip mall where I worked at Pearl Art & Craft. Long before then, Al was spending half of each year in St Croix, where he owned a hardware store as a retirement hobby.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson