When we lived in the US, I never particularly enjoyed going to the hardware store. I'm not very good at "DIY" stuff, so I've never been all that excited to walk into an Ace Hardware. But after experiencing shopping at hardware stores in China, I have a newfound love for Ace Hardware.
As we've mentioned, we are now vermicomposting (worm composting) in China, so we ordered a Worm Inn and had it shipped here from the U.S. Next, we needed to make a stand for the Inn, so we walked around until we found a hardware shop. We showed the workers a picture of what we wanted to do and even brought the Worm Inn with us so that we could show them exactly how wide and tall we needed to get the PVC pipe pieces cut.
At first, one of the workers told us they had nothing that could help us because they didn't have they types of connecting pieces we needed. But fortunately, another guy worked with us to figure out how we could modify different types of connecting pieces to get a similar result. We were all pretty excited that we were going to be able to make it work.
Unfortunately, then the first guy told us they didn't have enough of those pieces in the right sizes, so it wasn't going to work (again). We refused to believe that in this entire crowded shop, they had no more of those pieces, so Matt and I proceeded to look for ourselves. After about 5 minutes of us poking through piles of things, the guy got inspired and started helping us look. A few seconds later, voila, he found more pieces!
We told him the dimensions we wanted the PVC pipes cut, and he said to come back in a few hours to pick them up.
A few hours later...
We returned to find that he had cut pipes in a width that didn't fit the connecting pieces. Matt started getting pretty miffed at this point and told him they were the wrong fit. The guy was all defensive, saying, "But this is the size you first told me when you came in." Matt was like, "Right, but then we spent 20 minutes figuring out that you didn't have connecting pieces that fit that size, but you did have other pieces to fit a different size. Why would we want to buy pipes and connectors that don't fit each other???"
I guess that was a persuasive enough argument because the guy begrudgingly agreed to cut the right size pipes for us.
An hour later...
We came back to get the newly cut pipes, only to find that they had not all been cut uniformly. To make the stand correctly, each pipe has to match nearly exactly in length, but some were several millimeters longer than others. When we complained about it, the guy generously gave us a small rusty filing knife and said we could keep it and take it home with us to file down the mismatched pipes ourselves.
At this point, we figured this was the best we were going to get, so we paid him (I think it cost about 8 USD) and got out of there. We set up our stand at home, and needless to say, it was not the most sturdy.
Also, while I was waiting for 10 minutes in Ace Hardware, I marveled at how clean and organized everything was. Contrast that with our video below of the Chinese hardware store. The Chinese hardware store may be more of an adventure, but it is definitely easier to find things at Ace Hardware.
Moral of the story: if you want a PVC pipe stand for your Worm Inn in China, the local hardware store might not be your best option, and if you are in the U.S., be grateful for Ace Hardware. It really is amazing.