I have a crush on a local hardware store, and now I may never shop at Lowes again.

It all started with the quest for the perfect new front door for our home. We live in an older contemporary, so Victorian-styled leaded glass framed in faux-wood-fiberglass just wasn’t an option (and let me tell you, there seems to be a whole-lotta of that out there!). I visited the usual suspects–Lowes, Home Depot, even the local Pella dealer–hoping to find a simple real-wood door with horizontal panels of glass. No such luck. So I wandered into Fitch Lumber in Carrboro with my son in tow and within seconds was helped by a person who actually knew something about doors and quickly offered me a catalog full of doors that are perfect for our house. It was love at first sight (no…not with the door guy, but with the overall experience of helpfulness AND good quality goods, all under one roof).

At the end of our six month experiment in consumer-free living, I pledged to shop locally whenever I had the chance, to support local businesses, find items that are often more unique than something found in a “box” store, and to increase the chances of purchasing something that hasn’t been shipped, trucked, driven, and flown from China or other far-away places. I’m not totally sure where this door is coming from, but I do know that I’m supporting a Carrboro business that has been around since 1907. And that makes me happy.

To further test our lumber-yard crush, we (and by WE I mean Carter and our dear friend Matt) decided to re-build part of our 30 year old deck. We don’t have a vehicle large enough to haul lumber (for those keeping score, we still haven’t purchased a mini-van, or any other new vehicle for that matter–still holding out for the perfect earth-mama mobile), so we called Fitch. They offered to deliver the wood for FREE, then, when we realized we (and by WE I mean Carter) had ordered the wrong size of wood, they picked up and delivered AGAIN for only $18. What’s not to love about this place?

Don’t get me wrong. Lowes is not ALL bad. They’re a NC company, and they’re open all day Saturday and Sunday and have an enormous inventory. But let’s be honest, the help is somtimes lousy, it’s crowded, and I often leave having purchased something that I’m 45% certain I’ll have to return. I’ve found that other shoppers are often more helpful and available than the “hired” help at the store. So, overall, my shopping experience at Lowes leaves much to be desired.

Shopping locally is all the rage (see cover of this week’s Time Magazine about local food), and I’m jumping on that bandwagon. I’m ready for a long term committment–if Fitch doesn’t carry it, then clearly I don’t need it in my home.

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