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24 hours in Lawrence

Heavy lifting

May 22, 2007

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Tom Cottin, owner of Cottin's Hardware & Rental, unloads a truck full of stock early in the morning.

Tom Cottin, owner of Cottin's Hardware & Rental, unloads a truck full of stock early in the morning.

Here is a partial list of items unloaded from a supply truck, early in the day at Cottin's Hardware & Rental:

Dowel rods. Hoes. Pitchforks. A dog kennel. Box fans. Hose hanger. Glass cleaners. Shop light. Chain link fencing. Potting soil. Lawn mowers. Paint. PVC pipe. And dozens of plastic packing boxes, unmarked, full of a variety of other items.

All of it heavy.

"Not too bad. About 6,000 pounds," says owner Tom Cottin as he and Leo Beier grunt and curse their way through unloading every single pound of it on the back dock at the store, 1832 Mass. "A lot of big stuff this week."

Despite the mass, the two men work quickly, using an aging forklift and handcarts to pull all of the supplies off the truck in a bit more than half an hour.

"We try to get done as fast as we can, so we can watch the sun rise from the dock before we open" at 7:30 a.m., Cottin says.

Another incentive: The two men plan on taking in a Kansas City Royals game in the afternoon. (Maybe that didn't end up being such a treat, as the Royals lost to the Oakland A's, 17-3.)

In his hipster glasses, brown shorts and T-shirt, the 46-year-old Cottin more closely resembles a young Colorado rock climber than a Midwestern hardware store owner. He and his wife, Linda, have owned the store since 1992.

"We're having the time of our life," he says.

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