Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Sin of Omission - 2

For decades, so many of Belltown's hardware needs were met by Crawford-Waage, which stood on 3rd between Blanchard & Bell. These folks knew their stuff. I mean, there was a guy working there whose only duty was to keep track of screws. Everybody else was similarly specialized. There were two great things about the store (in addition to their rough wooden floor): 1. No matter how crazy things were outside on the street, the place was always an oasis of calm. The guys who worked there were big and intolerant of craziness and thievery. But there was always a good view out to all that stuff via their two very large front windows. It was kind of like watching it on TV. 2. They rang up every sale on an ancient cash register.

OK, so maybe their selection was a little less varied than your average Home Depot, but it was a great place to pick up a fake Christmas tree (I still have mine) or a fan when temperatures hit 90 for those two days in summer. Plus, if they didn't have it, they could get it. Back in the nineties when apartment buildings were going up like weeds around here, Crawford-Waage did a very brisk business with contractors who needed non-gigantic quantities of certain items. That and their status as Belltown's only hardware store sustained them through the recession of the early 00s. The end came for them about six years ago. I think the two owner-guys simply decided to retired. The store closed and that was that. The one-story, black-tiled building stood vacant for a time, but then, after much renovation, became the world's most unsuccessful reggae club. I think there were a grand total of two shows there before it closed. I'm pretty sure that the place was actually a large-scale weed operation most of the time, so entertaining the world with positive vibrations was not their top priority. After a few months, those guys were off to another front business and the building stood empty.

About three years ago, the wreck ball came down on everything. Decades of service to Belltown was brought down and hauled away in four days. As with the Speakeasy, it was decided that nothing was better than something. And nothing is what remains to this days. Observe:

Pretty bleak, no? Yeah, I'm really feeling that - especially today.

There are no more hardware stores in Belltown. But once upon a time, you used to be able to get almost anything you needed at a place that, when you came in, looked almost empty. That was the beauty of Crawford-Waage.

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