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The last independent non-chain hardware store in Tacoma, and its neighborhood

August 23, 2008

My husband needed sandpaper; I needed brown jasmine rice.  “Lincoln!” I proposed.  Lincoln Hardware and its neighbor, East Asia Market.  Where else could we combine a Saturday urban adventure with disparate errands and make it fun? 

Certainly not Fred Meyer.  The convenience of having a Fred Meyer two-tenths of a mile from our house is completely lost on us.  Convenience cannot begin to overcome the store’s raucous music and its institutional habit of constantly relocating merchandise so that an object is never where it was the last time and cannot be found without yet another grand tour of obnoxicana.

 Jennifer, Scott, and Dave Feist were our first friends in Tacoma.  We met them in 1993 when we moved to town and had to choose between camping and remodeling our first house here.  The little charmer with so much potential was walking distance to the Lincoln neighborhood. 

Jennifer and her two brothers own Lincoln Hardware, where we purchased the hardware to bring our house up to the standards of a developing nation.  Scott signed my state notary license application and various political petitions I’d bring in from time to time.  When my husband was out of town and the shut-off valve under the kitchen sink broke, I called the store and Scott told me how to shut off the water outside.  Jennifer kept our dog when we went out of town.  Hardy was never glad to see us when we returned.

Lincoln Hardware is a neighborhood store, family owned, and unaffiliated with any chain.  It’s the last of its kind in Tacoma. It’s been a fixture in the Lincoln neighborhood since 1929.  They sell everything from Parker paint to the right washer for the job to Lodge cast iron cookware to leather dog leashes. 

These kids fixed a bike tire while one's dad shopped inside.

These kids fixed a bike tire while one's dad shopped inside.

Home Depot came to town the same year we did.  But Lincoln has its faithful locals.  On a Saturday, Lincoln Hardware is busy, but it’s more like a neighborhood party than a bustle.  Until recently, they never used a calculator, and their cash register wasn’t a computer.  They tallied your bill with pencil and paper, and check-out was quicker than Home Depot.  Saturday I saw their new cash register for the first time.  Same great service.

Jenn and Dave stay busy serving a community of home improvers.

Jenn and Dave stay busy serving a community of home improvers.

 

Lincoln Hardware leads the War on Disrepair

Lincoln Hardware leads the War on Disrepair

 

Lincoln has a great selection of American-made speckle ware.

Lincoln has a great selection of American-made speckle ware. They also sell canning supplies and a beautiful Finnish juicer.

 

If you need lamp oil or Sterno, look no further.

If you need lamp oil or Sterno, look no further.

Most of the businesses in Lincoln International District–food, curios, beauty salons, and pool halls–now are Vietnamese.  The area is vibrant and people come to shop in the Asian markets and business looks pretty good.
Mrs. Frisbee's was a fixture in Tacoma when we moved here.  I don't remember when it closed, or how long a grand opening has been in the offing.  I remember wonderful cannoli, decent sandwiches, and insistence of one of the ladies who worked there that Mrs. Frisbee's had a ghost.

Mrs. Frisbee's was a fixture in Tacoma when we moved here. For 80 years, the bakery was a popular hangout, as well as supplier of cakes for weddings and other occasions. The bakery closed in 2001. I remember fantastic cannoli, decent sandwiches, and the deadpan insistence by one of the ladies who worked there that Mrs. Frisbee's had a resident ghost.

 

38th Street in "Little Saigon," Tacoma's International District

38th Street, Lincoln International District, aka "Little Saigon"

We walked around and headed over to East Asia Market for my rice.  Five pounds of beautiful long-grain jasmine brown rice for $3.99 beat Trader Joe’s.  I also found a good deal on ginger tea.

East Asia Market features pan-Asian and Hispanic foods.

East Asia Market features pan-Asian and Hispanic foods.

 

Rice by the 20- and 50-pound bag is economical and efficient, but I prefer five-pound clear plastic bags so I can see the grains.

Rice by the 20- and 50-pound bag is economical and efficient, but I prefer five-pound clear plastic bags so I can see the grains.

Taro root in various shapes and sizes.  Reading missionary George Paton's autobiography, I learned that the advantage of taro is not its paste-like taste, but the fact that it roots in water and survives monsoons and tsunamis.  If all other crops are destroyed by floods, taro remains.

Taro root in various shapes and sizes. Reading missionary George Paton's biography, I learned that the advantage of taro is not its paste-like flavor, but the fact that it roots in water and survives monsoons and tsunamis.

 

Off the chicken, I will am unpersuaded of any advantage of chicken feet.

Off the chicken, I remain unpersuaded of any advantage of chicken feet.

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2 Comments
  1. steve V permalink
    May 23, 2009 2:19 pm

    I left East Tacoma (35th&D) about three years ago to live here in Nicaragua.
    Thanks for a nostalgic trip thru my old barrio…How about los taco trucks

  2. frank lopez permalink
    November 13, 2009 11:41 pm

    wow my senior project (a huge project that is required for gradutation) is about small businesses vs big business and im just glad someone recognizes the importance and nastalgia of local family non-chain businesses =]

Comments are closed.