Earlier in the week I delivered a “Charm City DIY Guide” to my friend Timothy Dahl @ charlesandhudson.com. It was great because it was really the first opportunity I had to contribute to his site. Timothy, and through his work with Charles & Hudson specifically, has always been someone/something I have admired.
It, the Charm City Guide, is a list of resources, suppliers actually, that are unique to Baltimore – my hometown. Basically, it was what I came up with after a little light reflection across two afternoons. And I’m writing today to point you both to it, and maybe in some ways to qualify it – you know, expound on it a bit. But first …
image via Live Baltimore
Notes on Compiling a DIY Resource List
First, I’m probably just like you, that is – if you are a DIYer. I do most of my shopping at either the Home Depot or Lowe’s. While, I admit I like Lowe’s for somethings, I most certainly like the Home Depot for others. But really that/this whole thing, where I buy, often comes down to, well, convenience.
I lived for many years without a “local” Lowe’s, and Home Depot still ends up being closer. My HD I know like the back of my hand, and technically there are two HDs close enough for me to call them “my Home Depot.” If I want fast, in and out, it’s HD. No Question. But still ultimately, for most projects – I’m stopping into both. (And please tell me why exactly there are no drive-thru hardware stores … app, order, pick up at a window *shrugs*.)
More on Convenience: The Home Depot and Lowe’s offer not only an array of products across, well, pretty much all categories, they are also open at hours that work with me (Read: *cough* a weekend warrior, okay, and man, I despise that term). These are two luxuries that most independent retailers simply cannot offer.
Now, none of this is to say that I don’t love local independent retailers. I absolutely do (and you should too). Every time I work on a large project, a project that requires planning, you know I am paying a visit to one or more of these folks on my list.
In almost all cases, these suppliers offer a breadth of knowledge, depth of product and a level of customer service that simply cannot be matched by most big box store locations. (Likely why these businesses survive in this environment and in the current economic climate.)
Who’s on My DIY Resource List?
There were some obvious no-brainers like Budeke’s Paints, National Lumber, Southern Sales Services, and Beth’s DIY Workshop … I’ve done features on each of them and, of course, they were making my list. While I strived to feature only “local” businesses, many like T. Somerville or Shepherd Electric are more like regional companies, with locations near me. RE Michel (listed in the HVAC section) – they are spread pretty nationally, but frankly, I couldn’t think of anyone else to recommend for those hard-to-find HVAC goods.
This is a good point to mention that some of the suppliers work only on a contract basis. You must have an account with them to buy from them, and … in the case of say someone like RE Michel, they usually prefer a licensed HVAC professional. While many of them will work with you (as an average homer), sometimes it does take a little extra effort and sometimes, it takes a lot of extra effort.
I’ll admit too that on it (the list) at times, maybe, I played favorites. A good example would be Kenwood Kitchens. I’m not quite sure how much they are willing to let you DIY, but Dave W., one of the principals, is a member at our pool, we’ve met for business on the side, and ultimately we are friends outside all this stuff.
I missed some categories altogether, I know, like siding – and maybe it should be said. If you need items like this, you might find yourself looking to a gutter or roofing or a lumber company. Just like lumber yards, who offer many of the other product categories, there is a good bit of cross over on and within my list.
It would also be worthwhile to mention that many of these suppliers, while remaining independent, they do maintain multiple locations, check the websites, and I just happened to pick ones that I knew personally. Many even sell via their websites and through the internet (which, of course, can be handy anywhere).
Important to point out that all my homes, and actually where I grew up, are/is on the east side of Baltimore. I’d imagine if I lived on the west side – my list would have been totally different.
That’s it, and a quick thanks out to Live Baltimore. A great resource for homeownership and a great website. I became friendly with them after they featured Mrs. Moxie’s first house as a “neighborhood pop up.” With permission, they allowed me to use the image of Charles Village’s painted ladies.
Boy I can ramble and thanks out again to Timothy @ Charles & Hudson. I hope you find it helpful and go check my list. (Reprinted, here – DIY Material Suppliers: Baltimore, for convenience.) Cheers. ~jb