5 local DIY stores in and around St Albans to help you avoid the crowds at Homebase or B&Q this Easter weekend
PUBLISHED: 13:11 23 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:11 23 March 2016
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The long Easter weekend sees in the arrival of spring. And with spring comes spring cleaning, paint touch-ups, the start of garden prep for its summer use, the execution of odd jobs that you can't be bothered to do in the winter, and in some cases a whole home makeover.
This weekend everyone’s got the same idea – time to flock to the shops in the first retail rush since the January sales. But rather than trolley-dashing around Topshop or M&S, desperately grasping at the cut-price clothing on the last of the Christmas racks, Easter is more about hardware and homeware.
If you don’t fancy fighting the throngs of people likely to migrate toward the bigger chains, such as Homebase or B&Q, this weekend – there are plenty of quaint local home stores, there for a much more Zen shopping experience.
Here are five of them, in or close to St Albans and Harpenden.
Southdown Hardware, Harpenden
One Yell.com reviewer takes the words right from our mouths, saying that “I just made it before closing time and so much nicer than the queues at the big DIY stores”. Precisely the point of this list. Southdown Hardware is really rather quaint, with a mission to serve their customers with excellence in choice and service. Adding to the charm, this business is rooted in Harpenden’s history, having been founded in 1945 and formally known as ‘Marsh and Russell’. There were originally only 13 shops throughout Hertfordshire and today Southdown Hardware is the only one of these left (and is still run by a member of the Russell family). This shop has been a hardware store since the 1950s and the current proprietor, Mr. Russell, has been working in it for over 20 years. It sells everything from adhesives and glues to fixings and fastenings; garden equipment to varnish and lacquer.
Abbots Home & Garden, Abbot’s Langley
This hardware store is a little greener (literally), selling plant life and seeds as well as any garden equipment you might want. On top of this, you can pick up interior DIY supplies as well – covering kitchen supplies, electronics, plumbing and ironmongery. Their website boasts homeware also – items like the 13 Piece Appetiser Slate & Porcelain Buffet Serving Platter. They are a family run business who “will do whatever it takes to ensure your complete satisfaction”. Their aim is to help their customers source the right product for any DIY job, promising that anything can be obtained through their DIY stocks.
Metcalfe’s Home Hardware, Tring
A little further out of St Albans, this store was established in 1948 by Frederick William Metcalfe and his three sons, Ronald, Robert and Peter. It was later taken over by the youngest son Peter, whose son David now runs the business with his two partners, Joanna Lace and Ruth Trimmer. They describe themselves as traditional, specialising in hardware & ironmongery. Items on their stock list include growpots for home vegetable growing, and bakeware from their cookstore.
Toolstation, St Albans
This outlet is a little less countryside-quaint and slightly more industrial, but the range on offer is extremely impressive and on a much bulkier scale. Toolstation is part of a larger branch, but perhaps attracts those not wanting to head to the typical Homebase, B&Q and so on. For those embarking on large scale projects this spring, they sell construction goods and safety wear. But for the homeowner possibly looking to source equipment for re-doing the lights in the house, or upping the home security system, Toolstation caters for you too. You’ll also find plenty on offer for decorating, plus storage, ladders and tap/shower fixings.
Vah DIY, Berkhamsted
Another smaller-scale, more personal shopping experience, Vah DIY has great reviews online. One customer writes: “the most amazing shop if you need a tiny little piece of plastic that fits just behind the other thingy or a power tool solution to your problem. They have everything, open all the time, are super-friendly and have great knowledge to advise remotely”. Another goes on to gush that “they are very knowledgeable - and patient: they always have what I want and I can buy small quantities”. This very much accentuates that Vah DIY are there for the home-improver, looking for smaller bits and pieces for his or her project.