We found some old Ace Hardware Store gift cards from past Christmases that Debbie's grandmother had given me. River Ridge Hardware is my preferred neighborhood store but it's not an Ace. I trotted over to the nearest Ace where they tell me the cards had expired (but they don't really expire, it's confusing), and I'd have to call the number on the back to get them replaced. I go home and of course the nice lady on the phone tells me I have to go to a store to get new ones. I find out they total $50.
So finally, last Sunday I decided to go to the General Store on Division Street since they have a Customer Service Desk and they're an Ace Hardware. Maybe they can help. The General Store is a Spokane institution and has a bit of everything - shoes, clothes, camping gear, outdoor stuff, a bit of bike stuff, hunting/fishing gear. And disc golf stuff.
I get on my Vaya and bike the aprox 4 miles down there carrying the heaviest duty U-Lock I have. I turn it into a longer ride by going too far south then having to backtrack. I arrive there, look around, but don't find any bike racks. There's some shopping cart holders I could lock it to, or maybe lock it to a snowblower. I'm a little wary of locking the bike outside. A crazy thought crosses my mind that there's a good chance someone has a cordless grinder handy - it is part hardware store after all.
I decide to bring the bike inside while talking to customer service but inside a sign says the Service Desk is closed, you can return items at any register. Well, shoot. Since I'm inside the store anyway I look around and get all the way to the back corner of the hardware department with my bike before an employee tells me I can't bring a bike inside. What? I tell her I didn't see any bike racks outside and she tells me there's one on the side of the building or I can lock it to the cart rack. My bike isn't any wider than a shopping cart, but the aisles are pretty narrow in the General Store, so I don't argue the point. I say ok, and leave.
Here's one side of the store:
|no bike rack here, and far from the entrance|
|no bike rack to the side here, also a ways from the doors|
Here's the bike rack situation there:
Amazingly, or maybe not, I didn't find a bike rack at Town and Country. I lost interest in getting the phone out to take pictures, so you'll have to take my word for it. I was sure the Safeway there would have one, since the Safeway at Shadle does, but I didn't see one. There was a cart full of fire wood that I could lock my bike to if I had to in front of the Ace.
I go inside with my bike, and as the woman starts to say something, I break in before she can tell me I can't bring the bike in, saying I just need to ask a question. Long story short: I get a new $50 gift card. I ask them if I can lock my bike to the cart out front while I shop, and they say oh you can just leave it up front here by the checkouts. Props all around to the employees here. My loot: grass clippers, files, copper craft wire.
A couple good things came out of this gift card bike quest:
I found some good spots to cross Division and Francis. Both streets are busy wide main city thoroughfares that also double as state highways and I'm not fond of crossing them by bike. I don't think there's any designated bike lanes that cross either street. The intersections at Buckeye/North Foothills, Montgomery, Indiana, and Mission work. I always know if I have to, I can use a signaled crosswalk when biking on one of the busy traffic-signaled intersections like Wellesley, Garland, or Francis. Only problem, those crosswalks don't feel very safe on foot with all the cross-turning traffic. I like to cross Francis by taking Alberta, but I wasn't near there on this trip. This time I crossed at little used Post Street across from the Town and Country, but the other intersections like Wall and Monroe work by taking the lane.
And I burned off some winter fat.