Sick of corporate Christmas? Try shopping local. Hair Balls presents a 12-part series highlighting ideas for holiday gifts made and sold in Texas.
Yesterday we gave you some ideas for lovely lady gifts so today we're going to turn our attention towards the menfolk.
And we're going to start with a Montrose institution, Southland Hardware. The "store that has almost anything" also boasts itself as one of Houston's oldest and largest hardware stores. We're not sure about that last credential, since corporate megaliths Lowe's and Home Depot are definitely bigger, but Southland, which opened in 1953, is the best source in town for home improvement knick-knacks from key rings to carbon steel bits. The place is chock-a-block full of whatever you might need in the realm of fixer-uppers. They even have a pet care section. Trust Hair Balls, Southland has been the savior of many a broken toilet in our aging Montrose home.
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Not everything they sell is made in Texas, but shopping from a local institution should give you the warm fuzzies if what you're looking for is the kind of big-kid toy that requires an extension cord to operate. They sell everything from power tools to lawn and garden goods to project sundries for your favorite tinkerer. They also custom-cut keys, pipe, wood and other materials.
Wabash Antique & Feed Store is a bit along the same vein -- an old-fashioned general store in the heart of the big city. But where Southland focuses on home improvement, Wabash is a more outdoorsy sorta place. Their speciality is organic or localized gardening and they can help your handyman plan a natural front or back yard habitat featuring plants native to Texas. In addition to traditional gardening supplies they also sell products for beekeeping and birdhouses. Wabash's story is one of our favorites in Houston business. A feed store turned antique boutique that eventually became both, the business has been open for around 100 years in almost the same location as where it stands now. So take that, box stores.
If that doesn't make you love the store, consider the fact that they sell animals -- both companion animals and livestock. All the dogs and cats they sell are rescues, they sell bunnies and chicks (for eggs and eatin') and even miniature ponies. Hair Balls loves miniature ponies.
At Southland you can pick up a propane tank (and propane accessories) for one of the fancy-pants Texas-made grills at Pitts and Spitts. Who're we kidding. Any true Texan is going to ask for a smoker for Christmas, not a gas grill. Actually, the cheapest grill we could find on Pitts and Spitts website was a charcoal number for just under $600 which attaches to the hitch on the back of a pickup truck. But the fact that the company has been fabricating its own grills for the past 26 years should show you that a well-made grill could be a lifelong gift.