The two-tone blue building known for a half century as Andy's True-Value Hardware is immediately noticeable — both because of its distinctive, if fading, paint job, and because it is a stable and dedicated business set in the midst of an almost-exclusively residential area on San Pedro Street. The only other building for blocks that is not a residence is a Baptist church directly across the street. Picture a Home Depot without the cavernous interior, where customers call employees by name, and where their inquiries as to the health of the manager's mother or the cashier's sick child is commonplace. The store has always been independently owned and, in its lone incarnation, has weathered changing neighborhoods, two riots and — according to one of its recently minted managers, Maria, who has worked at the store for 25 years — a few robberies, though the latter phenomenon is relatively new. Andy's seems to be an island in many respects. Hopefully, it will continue to withstand the waves. 10411 S. San Pedro St., L.A. (323) 755-6757.

—Juliette Akinyi Ochieng

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