From the curb, Crest Hardware and Urban Garden Center could be any True Value store in the country. Step inside. An African Grey parrot, Finlay, observes shoppers up front; out back, under the peach tree, there’s a garden where eggplants, peppers, and big beefsteak tomatoes grow. Over in the corner, Franklin the pot-bellied pig snoozes in his pen beside a sign trumpeting free compost with purchase. Crest is the Ryan Gosling of hardware stores. It inspires ardent feelings and breathless Yelp reviews, and has spawned a beloved music festival and a respected art show. Evidence of the latter is scattered throughout the aisles. Exhibit A: a couple of Chuck Close-ish portraits—one in tiny squares of sandpaper, the other in nuts and bolts—of Crest’s manager, Joe. Joe won’t just guide you to the right caulking to reattach a shower soap dish; he’ll preach its virtues with the zeal of an evangelist, walk you step-by-step through the fix-it process, and arm you with a list of YouTube videos to check out while you’re at it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 16, 2013