Several years ago we decided that we would change the handles on some of the doors to our little house in rural Mallorca. The existing chrome-finished ones were showing signs of age and – the exterior ones - the impact from the climate. But after looking around all the ferreterías in Manacor, we concluded that this particular home improvement would be rather expensive. Idea abandoned.
A ferretería, I should explain, is a hardware or ironmonger’s store. We spent many hours in such shops during our early time on Mallorca when there were plenty of jobs to be done around the house. The Boss still enjoys a potter around such establishments just in case he sees something that may be useful in one of his frequent DIY jobs.
The arrival of large DIY stores on the island (mainly in Palma) has had an impact on the small local shops selling hardware; some of the ferreterías we used to visit have closed down, no longer able to compete with ‘the big boys’. But we still frequent these little treasure troves when we need something we think we’ll find locally.
Get a handle on this
Earlier this year, one of the chrome door handles broke. It was on the inner door to the annexe guest room, which we don’t use very often; we used a spanner to manoeuvre the lock when we wanted to get into the room. A bit Heath Robinson, but it was OK for a while. But with my uncle due to come and stay in the room in May, we knew we’d have to start thinking about new door handles.
During a visit to Sa Pobla (an area known for the cultivation of potatoes and onions) we spotted some rather attractive door handles in a ferretería window. We went in to the tiny shop – crammed with everything from rubber gloves to power drills – to ask the price. The handles seemed to be good quality but were a fraction of the price of others we’d seen in Manacor. Sold: one set of door handles. The guest room door situation was finally resolved.
A matter of trust
We were so pleased with the handles that on our next visit to Sa Pobla we called in at the shop again. Yes, they had another five sets in stock. But the in-shop machine they use to cut the keyhole in the appropriate place was broken. It was agreed that they’d reserve the handles for us and phone us when the machine was fixed. We offered to pay a deposit, but this suggestion was dismissed with a wave of an arm.
A week later we had the call to say the machine was fixed and The Boss jumped into the car and headed off. He arrived at the shop to find that the keyholes had already been cut, even though we hadn’t paid for the handles in advance. No waiting around while the holes were cut; all he had to do was pay for them.
I can’t imagine that would have happened at one of the big DIY chains. And that’s why we think it’s important to support ‘the small guys’.