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Inspiration Behind The Hardware Store Collection

Posted by Woodward Throwbacks on
Busy Bee Hardware Store

Former Busy Bee Hardware in Eastern Market, Detroit. We would love the chance to save some of these amazing signs!

We have been bursting to share more on the epic furniture pieces we've be designing from recycled advertising signs

The first collection we're releasing is The Hardware Store Collection. A tribute to the community hardware store -- where you can find not only tools, nuts, bolts, and paint; but also pick up some extra paper towels, a seasonal wreath, and a new hat. 

The Hardware Store Collection Styled Hero Image

Read on to learn more about the inspiration for this collection shared firsthand by co-founders, Bo and Kyle: 

What makes The Hardware Store Collection special to you? 

Bo: The Hardware Store Collection is special to me because of the significance local hardware stores play in the community and the relationship that is built in them. From a young age, trips to the local hardware store with my dad were almost ritual and something I would look forward to and still do. Hardware stores, both local and big-box, are now crucial to my craft. They allow me to learn and gather the tools we would need to create our furniture and turn it from sketch to reality. 

Most of the signs included in this collection are signs that were once part of displays from actual hardware stores. While many of the signs are made out of distressed plywood, we were also lucky enough to find a metal sign advertisement with vibrant blue hues and loads of texture:

Electrical Supply Co Cabinet StyledCabinets made from a Tarnow Electric Supply Co sign salvaged in Milwaukee Junction.

Kyle: The Hardware store collection is special to me because I love old hardware stores. Bo and I have been fortunate enough to salvage from some of the most amazing hardware stores in Detroit over the last few years. Most notably, Detroit Hardware Company in New Center and Busy Bee in Eastern Market. It's sad to see so many small stores close after being open to our local communities for sometimes over a century. For our business, we are constantly in and out of hardware stores. I appreciate the uniqueness of the small mom-and-pop shops.

The collection is built around everything from tools to working with your hands and includes a hardware store building sign, tool rack displays, and even local electric supply shops. The signs in this collection are from hardware stores and workshops we have salvaged in Detroit. 

What is the most random item you've bought from a local hardware store? 

Bo: The most random item that I always seem to buy at any local hardware store is snacks. Even when the tools or hardware I needed were not in stock, it wouldn't stop me from grabbing a snack or two and a pop before I left! And I think I developed this ritual from going to hardware stores with my dad, who, without fail, would always buy me a lollipop at the end of the trip!

Kyle: I bought a giant mounted fish in an attic of a hardware store in Detroit. It was a 5 ft Tarpon caught in Florida and dated in the '40s. Bo wasn't a huge fan, but I loved it. And it looked good in our store before we sold it.

Tarpon Wall Mount

What is your favorite local hardware store to visit? 

Bo: My favorite hardware store was the former Detroit Hardware Company located in New Center, Detroit. It was the first women-owned hardware store that I had ever been to, and it served the community for almost 100 years. I had the pleasure of Detroit Hardware being my main hardware store since 2008, so it was very bittersweet to salvage when it closed in 2017.

Kyle: My favorite local hardware store was also Detroit Hardware. The building was awesome, and there were some really cool old displays. Thankfully we were able to salvage most of the displays to reuse for the hardware section in our warehouse. I agree with Bo; the ladies who ran the store were great. We got to know them a lot more as we helped them clean out the store.

Detroit Hardware CompanyDetroit Hardware Company in 2017 while helping to clear it out and save some of its history.

What is your favorite set of pieces in The Hardware Store Collection:

Bo's Pick: 

My favorite sign series in the Hardware Store Collection has to be the Tools Graphic cabinets. Most likely hung in a tools storage or display section, the perfectly distressed plywood sign is painted white with thick black graphic outlines of saws, wrenches, and hammers! The sign was initially 8' x 4' and is now the facade of some of the cabinets in the Hardware Collection.

Tools Graphic Cabinet

group of Tools Graphic Cabinets

Kyle's Pick: 

The sign is from a small-town hardware store up north in Beaverton, MI. My grandma's family is from there, so it was cool to find something from that small town. But overall, I think the sign is low-key and pretty great. There is so much subject matter on the sign with all the store's different offerings. Some of the most prominent brands include Carhartt, Winchester, Remington, etc.

On top of that, the sign painter was really talented. Everything from the lettering, symbols, and illustrations are on point. It makes me think that there was some incredible sign painter working in this small community back in the day.

Carhartt Cabinet

group of hardware store cabinets


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