Why He Didn’t Buy a Saw

saw_salesWhen the man with the red mustache started down the stairs his wife ran to the door and called him back.

“Donald,” she said, “I want you to go into a hardware store to-day and get a saw. Don’t forget it, please. We need one badly.”

Being an accommodating person, the man with the red mustache said he’d get it. He chose the luncheon hour as the most opportune time for making his simple purchase. He was in a good humor and he smiled blandly when he went bustling into the store and said: “I want a saw, please.”

The clerk who had come forward to wait on him had a merry twinkle in his eye and the twinkle overflowed at the question and spread all over his face in dimples.

“What kind of a saw?” he asked.

The prospective purchaser began to perceive what an intricate business the buying of a saw really is.

“Why,” said he, “I don’t know. Just a saw. Any kind will do, I suppose.”

The clerk sighed. “If you only knew what you want to use it for, perhaps I could advise you,” he suggested.

“What I want to use it for?” echoed the man with the red mustache. “Why, I want to saw, of course. At least, my folks do.”

“Saw what?” asked the clerk.

“I don’t know,” admitted the nonplussed shopper.

The clerk brightened up again, and led the way to the rear of the store. “I will show you a few of the different varieties of saws we have on hand,” he said. “Observation and an explanation of their uses and prices may assist you in making a decision. Here’s a metal saw. It’s the hardest saw there is. It is made of highly tempered steel and will saw iron, copper, lead and all manner of metals. It it small in size and sells for $2 to $2.50, according to the style of the handle, which comes in beechwood and oak, the latter being more expensive. Is that the kind of saw you want?”

The man with the red mustache was sorely perplexed. “No,” said he, “I don’t think so. We have no metals at our house to work on, that I know of.”

“Perhaps you would like a meat saw?” suggested the clerk. “Steel in these is of hardly so high a grade and I could let you have a good one for a dollar. But you’re not a butcher?”

The man who wanted a saw shook his head mournfully, and the clerk continued: “There is a regular kitchen saw, for general utility purposes, which will cost you only fifty cents. How does that strike you? No? Then here’s the cabinet maker’s saw. I can give you a very good one for $3. Then I have over here plumbers’ saws, the fine delicate saws used by all manner of artificers and the ordinary wood saws which will cost you anywhere from fifty cents to $4. In that back room we have still other varieties; the two-man ten-foot saws, buzz saws and circular saws. If you want to pay a big price you’d better take one of the latter. I’ll give you a good one for $50. Would you like to see them?”

The man with the red mustache looked about him wonderingly.

“No, thank you,” he said. “I never dreamed that there were so many different kinds of saws. I guess I won’t take any until I find out just what kind I want.”

The clerk bowed affably. “I regret being unable to make a sale,” he said, “but I really think that the wiser plan.”

Hardware Dealers’ Magazine – July 1904

– Jeff Burks

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6 Responses to Why He Didn’t Buy a Saw

  1. abtuser says:

    I saw that coming.

  2. daltxguy says:

    His wife, obviously, being the one who did all the sawing…

  3. bloksav says:

    I wish mores stores still looked like the one in the picture.
    And then if just a few of them actually had trained personnel who were knowledgeable about the product they tried to sell.

    • I agree. I’ve seen photos of a hardware dealer in Boston called ‘Chandler and Barber’ that looked stocked floor to ceiling like the one in the picture and I really wish more stores like that existed today.

      • Eric R says:

        If there were one of these stores in my area, I’d never step into big blue or the borg again…..

  4. Joel says:

    Winks Hardware, in Portland, OR doesn’t *look* like that. But it’s a hell of a hardware store, with an old school vibe. Their hardware section, where you really do take a number and wait at the counter to talk to a very knowledgeable and helpful salesperson, just blew my mind. Man, do I miss that place.

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