The neighborhood hardware store satisfies a need in the community. People in an area like my home town continue to buy things like canning supplies and seed spreaders. They often live in older homes and use older tools and equipment which are things that you can actually repair instead of throw away and replace. A self-reliant sort, rural men often try to make these repairs themselves and so must go buy the necessary supplies. A hardware store like Clarke's often is staffed with knowledgable, approachable people (perhaps the owner) who have fielded every question imagionable and will steer customers to the right item or order it if they don't have it. It's surprising how often tradesmen will also go to the neighborhood source instead of the big box stores for this reason. They know and have dealt with the owner for many years and often have built a trusted relationship between vendor and customer. -Increasingly rare today.
This dependence on long term customer relationships often results in expert knowledge of their product lines. They know what customers need, season in, season out. For this reason, they don't load up on rivers of seasonal merchandise of dubious quality only to deeply discount it later (although they've been known to have plenty of Flexible Flyer sleds and Red Ryder BB guns at Christmas!). For this reason, the neighborhood hardware store rarely puts items on sale. However, some stock stays on the shelves for so long that inflation creates its own discount.