In the grand scheme of things, the closing of the Quality Ace Hardware in Ridgeland is no big deal.
The grand scheme doesn't have much room anymore for pop-and-son businesses, even when they've somehow managed to chug along for half a century in Small Town, America.
The pop in this case is Harry Brasch, who bought the D&D Hardware store on U.S. 17 in the heart of town 50 years ago this May. He spruced it up, changed the name and got new stock, adding gifts and housewares to the nuts, bolts, electrical and plumbing supplies, lawnmowers and a whole line of paint.
His son, Jimmy Brasch, took over 27 years ago.
Monday evening, they'll lock up and go home for the last time. The son, 59, will look for another job. The pop, 86, will slip back into retirement at Sun City Hilton Head, where he's lived for a decade.
Harry Brasch rolled into the Lowcountry in the 1950s to run a brand new truck stop two miles south of Ridgeland. It was open around the clock every day of the year except Christmas. That was before Interstate 95 opened, taking a truckload of Ridgeland's bread and butter businesses with it.
At the hardware store, Harry Brasch dates to the era when everybody in town closed on Thursday afternoons, even the Jasper County Courthouse. He remembers when customers came to town from outlying communities on horse-drawn wagons. They paid a dollar for the ride, then shopped all day, taking advantage of his free gift-wrapping and in-store credit.
Soon enough, even poor people were able to drive to Savannah to shop, and many did. Then Hilton Head Island "woke up," he said, and then there was Kmart and Walmart.
But the little hardware store slogged through numerous valleys over the years by clinging to the pillars of the business: personal service and credit. That, and community involvement. Harry Brasch took his turns as president of the business association and the chamber of commerce, and he's still proud of the "Ring Those Bells" Christmas cantata with five soloists he directed at St. Paul's United Methodist Church.
Today's economy closed the doors, he said. Contractors and painters aren't working, so they aren't buying. Do-it-yourselfers are doing only what they absolutely have to do.
Everything's being sold down to the bare walls, and the building is for sale or lease.
In the grand scheme of our global, virtual business world led by Wall Street, the closing of the Quality Ace Hardware is no big deal.
What if the grand scheme is wrong?