A few days ago the Salem Reporter had a story about demolition beginning on the building that used to house the Saffron Supply Company and Union Gospel Mission.
That makes me happy.
I first started going to Saffron Supply after my wife and I moved in 1990 to a house in rural south Salem. It needed a lot of work, including drainage from the gutter down spouts.
That required multiple trips to Saffron Supply, where the helpful staff pointed me to the flexible plastic pipe, both perforated and non-perforated, plus connectors, that I needed to accomplish my rainwater flow improvement job.
This photo I found on the Saffron Supply Facebook page of their old location captures the wonderful spirit of this pleasantly old-fashioned hardware store.
In 2004, soon after I started this blog, I wrote about a plumbing-related visit to Saffron Supply in "I'm the king of the world!" I called it that because my handyman skills are limited, so when I'm able to accomplish a repair, I get excited!
This is how the post started out.
King of the world, that’s who I am all right, in my own mind at least (where it counts). For I have replaced a rusted-out leaking drain on our laundry room sink, notwithstanding my normally plumbing-challenged handyman skills. There was something tremendously fulfilling about successfully dismantling the decrepit parts and installing the fresh new parts, adding the dollop of plumber’s putty, tightening the, um, whatever-you-call-its that needed to be tightened, turning on the water, and hearing the water run down the drain with nary a drip.
The list of those I’d like to thank for enabling me to achieve this marvelous accomplishment is short: the great guys at Saffron Supply in downtown Salem, that’s the beginning and end of it. This is the sort of place that can’t be allowed to disappear in the shadow of all the Lowes, Home Depots, and the like. I shamefully admit that I have a fondness for the bright lights, neatly stocked shelves, and cheerful employees at the Lowe’s store here in Salem.
But when you don’t know much about plumbing, and are carrying a plastic bag filled with a bunch of dirty, broken plumbing parts that no longer are plumbing for you, a place like Saffron Supply is where you want to be. It looks like it hasn’t changed much in decades. Wooden bins are filled with mysterious plumbing and electrical parts. When you pay, a pad is pulled out and you get a handwritten paper receipt. No women were in evidence, either staff or customers. I was careful not to wear a batik shirt last Wednesday, knowing that I would be entering the plain denim world of Saffron Supply.
Like a real man, I forthrightly admitted my ignorance right off the bat. I held up my bag of parts and said, “Whatever all this stuff is, it isn’t working any more.” I then made a concise plea for help, making sure that I threw in the phrase “plumbing-challenged” several times. The Saffron guy then took over. He walked over to one of the wooden bins, pulled out a shiny new thing-a-ma-bob and said, “This is what you used to have.” Wow! So that’s what it used to look like thirty-three years ago when our house was built! He then grabbed various other connectors, seals, and what not, and put together a perfect replica of the drain that used to drain before it stopped draining.
So thank you, Saffron Supply, for staying in business. The helpful expertise of your staff is what Salem needed in the past, needs now, and will need in the future. Your history is impressive. Wow, since 1910, 112 years. Here's a screenshot from the Saffron Supply web site.