Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Harvey’s Hardware

[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. . . .

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).
Frenzy indeed: how else did we end up buying WD-40 and floor wax — among other things — while on vacation?

A related post
Things I learned on my summer vacation (2010)

comments: 4

Elaine Fine said...

Don't forget about the Tibet Almond Stick!

Michael Leddy said...

Oops — I did.

Gunther said...

Michael, thank you very much for drawing my attention to that book! I have bought the German translation ("Das perfekte Chaos") immediately after reading your post and finished it today. It was both entertaining and enlightening, and besides that it helped me to think different about the mess at home I am struggling with now and then ;-)

Michael Leddy said...

You’re welcome, Gunther!