Workingman's Headquarters, a hardware store in San Francisco's Mission District, is one of those odd and wonderful places where time stands still.
The merchandise itself is often mint-in-box stuff from the 1960s, but the organization of the store is early 20th century: Instead of browsing the aisles, customers must ask the shopkeepers to select and fetch the desired goods -- which they are happy to do.
The proprietors themselves are two elderly brothers who dress in matching blue lab coats, and they serve their customers with old-world attentiveness (and classical music playing in the background). I stopped in last weekend to buy a caulk gun. One of the gents retrieved one for me, then pointed out -- helpfully and accurately -- that it was the kind with real teeth on the plunger rod, instead of one of those cheaper models with a smooth rod. That said, it was still cheap -- just $3.49, according to the handwritten label. I bought it, of course.
I could go on, but instead, I'll just quote a typical comment culled from the Workingman's Headquarters Yelp page:
I am just going to refer to this place as "Grandpa's Basement" from now on. Really, it is insane. I felt like I was walking into the oldest hardware store in all of Northern California. And forget trying to find what you need in the store. The two old men will ferret out the bits and pieces you need for your project. It's quite hilarious since the store really is about 2,000 paper boxes and a bunch of stuff thrown into small piles around the store. Yes, crazy.
I am definitely coming back here for hardware purchases in the future. If not, I will come here just to stare at the mess and chaos they somehow know how to navigate. They are like some lost astronaut in space navigating a maze of asteroids. Oh, and the music. Opera music all day like what! I think the opera music is what made them super helpful in tracking down the screws that I needed.