• Hot, rubbery tires. Chinese chemical plants, hot vials of liquid rubber, and the musty stench of ocean liner storage bays combine to form this mind-altering buzz. And when you cruise on by, don’t forget to grab a free massage by rubbing your hand across all those tiny plastic hairy bits sticking off the tires in all directions. A classic.
• Those tightly packed piles of soil. Flopped sideways and drooping in all directions, don’t these bags always look like they’re about to burst at the seams? Well, I guess the problem is that some of them do, leaking their sweet smelling brown-with-white-flecks dirtload all over the floor.
• The key-cutting machine. If your hardware store is lucky enough to have a kid working away on a screaming key-cutting machine, then you’re probably sniffing in some hot, oily machine parts and a few metal scraps flying in all directions. Yes, that high-pitched piercing will wake up your baby and those smoky-metal fumes will wake up your childhood memories. Not a bad trade.
• Stacks of lumber. Decades of sun, water, and carbon dioxide help build tiny seedlings in the sod into majestic giants of the forest. Now even though they’re diced up into bits, they’re still breathing out those deep woody, sappy-fresh scents.
• Assorted old spills. Somebody kicked a can of paint thinner under Aisle 3 back in 1987 and now its faintly toxic aroma is just hanging limply in the air along with metal nail dust, shiny tools, and plastic snow shovels.
Yes, as you walk those old hardware aisles it’s hard not to soak in the memories. So when you leave the store on the creaking wooden floor, through the dusty, sunbeam rays shining lazily over the dirty black floormat, let that jingle-jangly door clang shut on your great Saturday morning sniff down memory lane.