Hardware Store Style?

You bet your toolbelt!

Just because every single solitary blessed snippet of home information today seems to have been shaken off the pen of Martha Stewart or her new best friend, Oprah, doesn’t mean you have to fall into line. In the meantime, let’s take a practical look at : Housewarming presents. We’re not talking Martha’s Vineyard Foggy Morning Potpourri, or everyday china featuring hand-drawn muffins that matches the aura around the dog’s eyes.

We’re talking about things people really could use, if someone would just give it to them.

It’s becoming more common at Frentz and Sons Hardware for some brave soul to stray off the Martha course and actually make a housewarming basket packed with hardware items people can use.

“We’re getting situations where neighbors throw a welcome party for new home owners and we find them in here, starting with a laundry basket, a steel bushel basket, or even a garbage can, and filling it with household items,” Mike Frentz says. “It really is becoming a common event.”

Mike figures many of the baskets are for first-time homeowners who are coming from an apartment and just haven’t acquired the items necessary to run a household. When customers ask what they should include in such a basket, Mike says:

• A plunger, but not just any plunger – you’ll want to give the best, so give the Harvey's Power Plunger. “It has a flange built in so you can build up lots of pressure, and you can fold it back up to use in kitchen sinks.” Snicker if you will, but when you need one, there is no substitute.

• A push broom. “They’re definitely not going to have one of these if they’re coming from an apartment,” Mike says.

• A step ladder. His favorite, pictured here, is the platform ladder made by Warner®. Mike likes it because it folds very thin and stores easily, has a tray for setting tools on and is extremely staple.

• Welcome mats for housewarming presents, what a concept. If you want to be a good friend, get the type of mat pictured here ( tire tread mat). It gets the mud and snow off shoes because the dirt falls through the mat, rather than just sitting on top for the next person to step in.

• A shower curtain liner. “The first thing anyone wants to do when they’re done moving in is take a shower, and this is one of the things they always forget and run to the store for,” Mike says.

• A roll of duct tape. You need not give drab gray. Frentz has duct tape in lots of colors –– bright reds, green, yellow, and white.

• A mop. Don’t forget a bucket.

• A box of Tri Sodium Phosphate, the gift that keeps on giving. “This stuff will clean anything,” Mike says. “It’s the best cleaner there is, particularly for sooty, greasy dirt you’ll find around a fireplace.” The standerd mix ratio is a quarter cup of TSP per gallon of water. If you’re doing a basement floor and need to sanitize it, add a cup of bleach to that mix and make sure you have adequate ventilation.

• If you’re friends moved from another city or township into Royal Oak, start them off with lawn bags, lawn tags, and twine to wrap branches to they’ll be in accordance with the city regulations and their stuff will be picked up by the refuse department.

• And last, particularly for this time of year, a rake. “Get a plastic one –– those are best for raking leaves at this time of year,” Mike adds.