The Last Good Hardware Store in Pittsburgh

When you're looking for something, and (in your opinion) any decent hardware store should have it, but you've been looking and you can't find it, then Rollier's hardware in Mount Lebanon (just South of Pittsburgh) is the place to go.

I first became aware of Rollier's when they still had a location in the city's Shadyside neighborhood. Shadyside is a mostly nice neighborhood between the Universities & Hospitals and the somewhat less nice neighboorhoods to the East. It has a lot of big old houses, but also a lot of apartments and student housing. At that time, Walnut Street was a cool shopping street in a hip neighborhood, and that location of Rollier's was the perfect hardware store for anything you might need on short notice. It had been there a while, and its stock was perectly tuned to meet the needs of the people who lived within walking distance.

That location has long since closed as Walnut Street slowly became an outdoor shopping mall and the hipness moved away to be replaced by bland affluent consumerism, but the location in Mount Lebanon is still there. This is somewhat ironic, because Mount Lebanon is it is basically one of the first places that would come to mind if you were making a list of the affluent suburbs of Pittsburgh. It's a very old-style place, though. Very insular, with their own movie theater and those little metal boxes for paying your parking fines when the meter inevitably expires before you can feed it. In most places, this kind of store is in trouble, but I have no doubt Mt. Lebanon locals support this store as much as possible.

Anyway, the Rollier there is big. It's about as big as supermarkets used to be before they went gigantic. The staff there is solicitous ("Anything I can help you find today?") but polite about leaving you alone if you don't need help. The store doesn't stock huge quantities of anything, but they stock a little bit of everything, and the staff knows where it all is.

For a while, we've been wanting a scoop of some kind for loading wood pellets into the pellet stove. Our best guess was a pet store, but apparently pets only eat food one cup at a time, so scoops are sized that way. Rollier's had four different sizes, and I think the one I bought holds about six cups.

I've also been looking for water based sanding sealer. I used to get it at Lowes and Home Despot, but they don't carry it any more and the staff doesn't know anything about it. They had it at Rollier's, and the guy at the paint counter knew enough to tell me that the manufacturer had just been bought out and if I really liked the stuff I should buy more than one can.

In the past, I've bought Rubbermaid items of the type nobody else carries and Dremel Accessories that aren't found on the standard retail rack. You'll also wind up buying stuff you didn't know you needed until you saw it, so shop carefully. The power of Rollier's should always be used for good, and never for evil.

2009.02.16 at 12:00am EST