Monday, December 22, 2008

The Town's Hardware Industry: A Parable

On the surface, this is the story of a small town's need for hardware. But, reading between the lines, you may discern a message about a major American industry, presented with the subtlety of a pile driver.

Saving the Town's Hardware Industry

The town had three hardware stores: Bud and Bubba's Hardware and Bait; Central Tool and Hardware; and Abe's Tools. They provided a wide selection of products. You could get an 8-track stereo for your convertible, aluminum siding kits, and all the parts needed to build your own bomb shelter.

People who worked for one of the Big Three hardware stores were the envy of their neighbors. Over the years, they'd negotiated their way into top-rate pay, health coverage, and retirement plans.

Bud, Bubba, Abe, and Waldo, the fellow who ran Central Tool, weren't doing too badly, either.

Now, if you wanted an exhaust fan for your bathroom, you'd be better off talking to Ralph. He had a small stock in his garage, and could have just about anything else shipped in.

You'd call Lacy if you needed an electrostatic filter, and Pat for something like a USB cable.

One day, the Big Three hardware store owners noticed that they were running out of money. And had been for a while. So, they went to city hall and told the town council that they needed money. Lots of it. It wasn't just for them, they explained, it was for the Town Hardware Industry.

Without the Town Hardware Industry, the town's economy would collapse, they said.

The oldest and wisest member of the council, who had seen 8-tracks come and go, told Bud, Bubba, Abe, and Waldo that they shouldn't get one cent of the town's money. And, that the town would be better off getting its hardware from Ralph, Lacy, Pat, and all the other townspeople who had been paying attention.

And so, the town council sent Bud, Bubba, Abe, and Waldo away, empty-handed. The Big Three owners retired to private resorts on the lake country, some of their employees went to work for Ralph, Lacy, or Pat, and some opened their own little hardware stores.

And the Moral of this Story is -

Do I really have to say it?

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