Reclaiming the handyman precinct


An internet search for a basic handyman kit was disappointing.  In 1952, the Sunday Herald newspaper called it a handyman’s tool kit.  In 2015, some hardware suppliers are still calling it that.

Disappointing, but not surprising.

For example, research by the Pew Centre in the United States shows an increase in the number of households headed by women, from 11% in 1960 to 40% in 2013.  Single mothers make up 2/3s of that 40%.  That’s a market of 25% of households ignored by the hardware suppliers.  However, according to the Consumer Federation of America, it’s a market less likely to have the disposable income necessary to purchase such items.  They report that in 2008 the typical median household income for women was $22,592 while that of all households was $43,130.


Finally, I’ve worked out the right words for an internet search – home maintenance for women.


When I was in my late twenties (during the 1980s) and living alone, I decided to start collecting home maintenance bibs and bobs.  I knew that quality would cost, and  at times dipped into the Specials table.  It could be a financial struggle.  Just buying something official-looking and practical to store them in was a major undertaking.

That bright red metal box, with its cantilevered opening, has been a nuisance to house and a bastard to use (pardon my language).  This year, as part of my Year of Liveability, I’m trying to find something that works.  However, before I sort out a new container, I must work out what it will contain.


Back when I started collecting, the shops were closed on weekends.  Now, extended trading hours have eliminated the need to stock up for emergencies.  The modern day young women can build up her in-home resources as the need arises.  The day the first tap starts to drip is the day she decides it’s time to buy some basic plumbing essentials – disposable income permitting.

For those of us who are retracing our steps, the tricky bit is deciding which things are taking up space unnecessarily.  For example, the cheap circular rasp … can’t even remember when or why I bought it … perhaps it’s here just because I knew that a rasp is supposed to be useful; but I’ve only used it once.  Two years ago I bought an assemble-it-yourself compost bin.  The “pre-drilled” holes in the moulded plastic were a bit haphazard.  The rasp was perfect for cleaning them up.

Perhaps that’s the sorting criteria for this job, given I haven’t purchased anything new for a while:  if it’s been useful at least once, it stays.  I can always resort to the hardware store if an emergency crops up …

… credit card permitting.


Pew Research Centre, 2013, “Breadwinner Moms”, viewed 31/5/2015,

Consumer Federation of America, 2008, “The financial condition of women on their own”, viewed 2/6/2015,


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