EVERETT — Talk about screwed up.
The back room at this Ace Hardware store is a hotbed of screws, bolts, washers, fasteners, plugs, grommets and whatchamacallits.
It even has a name: The Nut House.
What’s up with that?
Ace owner Judith Pyle said the back room was a natural place to keep the nuts and bolts when she opened the store six years ago in Claremont Village plaza next to the QFC.
“The architecture of the building lends itself to this room being separate,” she said.
The name nailed it. “We were throwing out names, and this one just stuck,” Pyle said. “Other stores have an aisle. We have our own little nut house.”
Pyle’s aunt made the crafty painted wooden Nut House sign that hangs by the entrance to the haven of hardware bits.
But first you have to find it. Pass by the popcorn machine near the store’s entrance (grab a free bag) and head down the center aisle of paint, plungers, holiday decor and other trimmings of humanity.
At the end, turn left at the directional arrow pointing the way to The Nut House.
Some customers make a beeline there on a mission for a specific piece. Others come to browse through the bins and drawers of loose odds, ends and wonders. It’s like stepping into a giant jewelry box filled with gleaming silver and gold gems.
“It’s a marvelous place,” said customer Terry Chism of Everett. “You can find anything and everything. If I need a bolt that is just a smidgen longer, I come in here and get it. If you’re used to fixing things and doing things with your hands, this is the place to come.”
Another perk: No need to buy a bag of a dozen screws when you only need one.
The room’s guts are stocked by The Hillman Group, a national brand supplier.
“The really cool thing about it is we don’t have to inventory it,” Pyle said. “The Hillman sales rep brings a little RF gun thing, and opens every drawer, and counts it and automatically orders.”
The really-really cool thing is the user-friendly online database to search by computer or smart phone. It was initiated and devised by Pyle’s grandson, Aiden, a Lake Stevens High School senior who works weekends at the store with his twin brother, Austen.
“He said, ‘Hey, would you mind if I did this?’” Pyle said. “It’s a database that he organized and populated. He gave it all the colors and made a map.”
For example, acorn and knurled nuts are on the east wall, upper section in red box No. 64. Rubber stoppers are in a blue box on the east wall. Wooden dowel pins are in the yellow box, center aisle.
The really-really-really cool thing is that the database is also on an iPad in the room, so you can surf on the turf.
It supplements the TLC by the workers in red vests who greet customers at the door at the store that has earned a string of Herald Readers’ Choice Awards.
“A lot of auto repair guys come in looking,” Pyle said. “They’ll bring in a nut or bolt and say, ‘Can you match this?’”
Sure enough, five minutes later, in came Bob Hartley from O’Reilly Auto Parts with that very request. A worker led him to the drawer with the goods.
“I found a hard-to-find bolt,” Hartley said. “So I got two, because I know I’m going to mess one of them up.”
The price of his happiness: “85 cents apiece.”
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
The Nut House
Ace Hardware, 4835 Evergreen Way, Everett; 425-610-4112; www.evergreenwayace.com. Go to the Departments tab and click Nut House.