I was reading about Annie's Work Day 1 on the stair at her house and began thinking about how helpful it can be when there are knowledgeable staff at the hardware store. But it's not so common...
The big box stores generally don't have the experienced staff of smaller, owner-run mom and pops. For this very reason, my father always goes to the same hardware store and pays a little more for his purchases. The owners are there to help him, as they have been for 30 years. I don't quite have such a relationship with a local Brooklyn hardware store, but I have had these good experiences:
First, at Sid's Hardware. The hardware department (you know, nuts, bolts, etc.) has time and again helped me mull over the proper fasteners for projects around the house, unearthed old boxes of brass screws to match existing ones I brought in, and treated me with patience when I was picky beyond understanding.
Second, when in need of paint or refinishing supplies, the paint man (sorry I don't know your name) at Bruno's True Value Home Center on Court Street has routinely been helpful and knowledgeable. I wish I knew him by name, because his service was always outstanding, but it's been a couple of years and I'm not sure he's there anymore.