I organize homes and offices for a living, so it’s amazing to see so many items for the job on the shelves at local hardware stores. That wasn’t the case a few decades ago.
I’m not just seeing things for organizing garages and basements. There are hundreds of items for bringing order to all of the rooms in the house.
The latest include bento box storage cubes with moveable inserts as well as a divider for making a snack drawer in the kitchen. Even those big modular stacking storage bins have gotten an update, with a front window panel that lets you look inside and reach in for what you want. No need to take it from its shelf or remove the lid.
A visit to one store turned up eight styles of cutlery trays. Another had five products for organizing shoes. And all of them carry an array of shelving units and large plastic bins.
“We’re constantly trying out new products because they are so sought-after by customers,” said Henry Jeanes, assistant manager at the Frager’s True Value store in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C., where so many homes have limited square footage and storage space.
Totes, shelf dividers, plate risers and drawer organizers are some of the store’s best-selling items. There’s also a chrome basket by InterDesign that can hang inside a kitchen or bath cabinet, to make use of the vertical space just inside the doors.
Products for organization have increased tenfold, which is why they’ve been able to become a larger part of the inventory at hardware stores, said Lou Manfredini of Ace Hardware.
In an urban market, where tiny living quarters are more common, the selection tends to be even greater and extends well beyond hardware and home improvement stores.
At smaller, independently operated stores, such as those in the Ace family, owners are able to try out limited distributions of newly released products.
“Local hardware stores are leading the way in sales of organizing products because they can be more flexible than big-box stores in terms of getting the newest products to the market,” Manfredini said.
And even though hardware stores are all about practicality, that doesn’t mean you can’t also find great design.
Customers typically can find designs from the modern and sleek Simplehuman, Umbra and Design Ideas brands, as well as more basic and understated options from Rubbermaid and Sterilite.
One store sells Design Ideas’ brightly colored Squish Drawer Stores, which are both fun and functional. The colorful silicone drawer organizers are a long way from the wares in the hardware stores of my childhood, and that’s for the best. There are also many useful and well-designed products made by lesser-known companies.
Today’s hardware stores meet a wider variety of home improvement needs, in form and function. And if all you need is a socket wrench, well, you can still find that, too.
Anzia is the owner of Neatnik (http://neatnik.org).
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