[Photograph by Elaine Fine.]
Welcome to Harvey Katz’s hardware store, in Needham, Massachusetts:
Every square inch of shelf and wall space and the vast majority of floor space — even the ceiling — is crammed with a riotous mélange of wares, all of it jammed together, some of it so old the packaging is discolored. The aisles are narrow and asymmetrical and indistinguishably lined with tall, dense, unbroken shelving. What little space there is to walk through is made into an obstacle course by various wares stacked in unlabeled piles. . . .Frenzy indeed: how else did we end up buying WD-40 and floor wax — among other things — while on vacation?
According to Harvey, the jammed-up feeling communicates the scope of the inventory and creates an ambience compatible with a hardware-buying frenzy. It must: Harvey’s packs in $113 worth of inventory per square foot, more than three times the average for hardware stores. Sales per square foot are $503, close to four times the average.
Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder (New York: Back Bay Books, 2007).
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