From Where I Sit – It’s a Man’s World

Normally, in this space, I take great pains to avoid specifically naming people, businesses or entities. The notable exception is my immediate family. They’re fair game. After all, they love me and forgive me if I overstep.

I must make an exception this time by writing about Princess Auto. Every male alive is well acquainted with this “manly” store. With 24 Canadian locations and six of those in Alberta, Princess Auto is making a lot of Canuck men very happy. Most women will recognize the fat, little catalogues that faithfully arrive month after month. Of course there’s the big fat 400 page annual catalogue for a year-round PA fix.

I’ve only been in the west Edmonton store once. Because I was making a beeline for the washroom I didn’t linger or check out the inventory. I really don’t quite understand the appeal. Usually I’m sitting in the truck in the parking lot while Roy just runs in “for a minute.” When I don’t have my nose in a book, I notice the parking lot is always full. Roy and I think these guys have a license to print money. There is a constant stream of men alone, fathers and sons, groups of men going into the store. I daresay no one (including Roy) comes out empty-handed either.

I didn’t really think too much about this male bastion of retail heaven. Didn’t quite know what went on in there. Didn’t really care. I don’t expect Roy to appreciate the appeal of a fabric or home d├ęcor store either.

It wasn’t until I was in the bathroom with nothing to read but the PA catalogue that I got a feel for the broad range of products they carry. According to Roy their selection of hydraulic hoses and fittings, pumps, cylinders and select hand tools is exceptional and good quality. For the occasional weekend warrior, there are the cheaper off-shore tools of the more disposable variety.

And apparently even Princess Auto has a surplus section where the more obscure, out-dated, buying mistakes are cleared out. Do you need a hands-free headset for $1.49? Have you ever wondered how you could test your phone system wiring? Me, neither. But with a special purchase, while quantities last promo price of only $1.99, perhaps I could try. From 49 cent furniture glides to a 24 horsepower Honda engine for $2500, Princess Auto seems to answer the male need for gadgetry, horsepower, amps, psi, voltage and technology. I felt a twinge of pride when I came across items I could identify because I’ve seen Roy use them–like a gear puller, o-ring kit, calipers.

Now if only he’d try to learn the difference between toile, ultra suede and jacquard fabric. Or learn to appreciate thread count, furniture styles, color trends. If he starts reading my decorating books I’ll know there’s hope for male/female understanding. Until then my glimpse into man world will have to do. Next time I’m going in. Purely research, from where I sit.

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