BEST HARDWARE STORE - 2000
These days hardware stores come in two shapes. On one side are the home-improvement superstores where you can buy pretty much anything you need, assuming you're able to find it. Every foray into one of these is an adventure in the retail wilderness; you might wander in on Tuesday looking for a set of screwdrivers and emerge--slightly dazed and much lighter in the wallet--on Sunday with a truckload of lumber and plans to build an addition to your house. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the neighborhood hardware store, which has pretty much everything you need, and, as an added bonus, has actual human employees who are always available to help you find it. Walk into Settergren's Hardware in southwest Minneapolis, and you'll know right off that you're in friendly territory: A sign on the door welcomes patrons to bring their dogs shopping with them. The smell, too, is comfortingly familiar: along with that ineffable hardware scent, the aroma of fresh popcorn wafts through the clean, well-lighted aisles. If you do lose your way, one of the store's helpful and amiable experts will quickly guide you to the eggshell-finish latex paint, the lag bolts, or that little doohickey that will stop the thingy in your toilet from running all night long.