240 McMechen St., (410) 728-4844, belle.doitbest.com
Open for nearly 40 years, Belle Hardware in Bolton Hill has served not just that neighborhood, but Reservoir Hill and Druid Hill as well as hundreds of MICA students each year. During the Baltimore Uprising, the store was one of several that was looted in the shopping center on McMechen Street, but not as thoroughly as one might expect. When word got out that the store was being looted, neighbors rallied—grabbing baseball bats and hammers—to board up and defend it against theft. After the looting, a local fabricator even welded handmade security bars as a gift. Undiscouraged, longtime owner Janice McCulley has vowed to keep the business open. Its when good neighbors and friends come together and support businesses in times of trouble that we truly see the best of Baltimore. Hearing this story should make us all proud to call this city home.