Home Improvement: Then and Now

In the early days of home improvement, This Old House was the Gospel – the sole insight into home improvement ideas for DIYers and professionals. Today, however, the whole landscape for home improvement has changed…and, arguably, for the better!

So, what’s the difference between then and now?

THEN there was only one home improvement show – This Old House – so if you couldn’t find the answers there, you couldn’t find them anywhere…without a professional, of course!

NOW with channels like HGTV and the DIY Network, home improvement isn’t just a show…it’s a way of life!

THEN your local hardware store – owned by the same people for many years – had all of your home improvement needs.

NOW the big box stores – Lowe’s & Home Depot – are king…but you can still find your local mom and pop stores (such as this one!) in your community.

Those are two of the biggest differences…but what some might really find shocking is the number of stores that were King of the Road in the 1980’s that went out of business by the time 1990 rolled around!

For example:
  • The Wickes Companies was one of the largest home improvement chains in the world in the 1980’s. At one point, this Southern California company was so big, it bought out other mom-and-pop retailers and other big box stores (such as the also-now-defunct Builder’s Emporium, which was based in Georgia). But in 1989, the company began to fall apart, and in 1993, it completely disappeared.
  • In the 1980’s, you couldn’t go anywhere in the greater NY area without finding Pergament Home Centers. But in the 1990’s, as Home Depot began to dominate the market, the store began closing all of its locations, until the only stores left were in the five boros of NYC (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island). Pergament finally closed all of its doors in 2001, when its entire inventory was liquidated.
What are some of the trends of the past that you remember? Let us know in the comments below!

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