Best Hardware Store - 2008
Ganahl Lumber Co.
This chain with seven Orange County stores traces its roots back to 1884, when Austrian immigrants Christian and Frank Ganahl moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles and opened the first—and what would become the oldest—lumberyard in California. The business has been passed down to family members ever since; in 1976, the company allowed employees—cashiers, salespeople, mill workers—to become part owners if they desired. Ganahl has a solid reputation among contractors and common folks when it comes to customer service and the variety of lumber and hardware-store items stocked. But each store has something unique, too. All that's missing in Lake Forest are lumberjacks and a river filled with felled timber for it to be a full-blown mill. Displayed in front of the Anaheim store is a huge band saw that was built in 1900 and for 52 years cut Douglas fir at a mill on the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. And the Costa Mesa outlet's specialty-item buyer obviously has an eye for the unusual; there are products you'd be hard-pressed to find just about anywhere, let alone your national-chain hardware mega-store. Need a ceramic pug or Yorkie? How about a plastic cardinal to affix to Old Glory? Or a creature of mysterious origin inexplicably decked out in Ye Olde England garb? (My money's on it being the spawn of a jackrabbit and chupacabra.) Costa Mesa's Ganahl is the perfect one-stop spot for a replacement rake, Bing Crosby-style hat and foofy Mother's Day gift.