I had to go to Home Desperate this weekend to pick up some little thing and I was dreading it. I miss small mom & pop hardware stores like the one in the town I grew up in. It had creaky old wooden floors and the store was really narrow but ran the full length of the building. You could get keys made, buy tools and grass seed, pick out paint and wallpaper and order lumber. But you could also get some Pfalzgraff (when they still had only 6 patterns and hadn't moved into every outlet mall in Suburbanville), a hurricane lamp, real linen dishtowels, a crock pot, baking pans, horsehair brushes, and a red flyer wagon. I bought a steamed pudding mold there that I still use. I think there was a cat. If there wasn't, there should have been. They had the best selection of greeting cards, lots of Boynton, Kliban and other non-Hallmark staples. There was a simplicity about shopping there that the big box stores completely lack. You could walk in, find what you wanted pretty quickly (and if not, someone who worked there -- and who actually knew what they were talking about -- would help you find it). You didn't have to hike through a huge warehouse of a store, and there were only two or three options at most for each item, not like the option overload of modern-day shopping.
I know there are still stores like this -- there's one on the main street of the town just west of mine. But they are a dying breed, and those that are still around are having to scale back on what they offer as the big box stores eat their profits. I know for a fact that the store near me did not have the item I ended up buying at HD, because I went there first. I did, however, buy some soy candles, a flower pot, and some picture hooks. ;-)