"Friend or Home Depot spy?" joked the young man behind the counter when he thought we were being a little too inquisitive about Paradise Hardware's holdings. The hardware-store wars must be more intense than anyone has imagined. In any event this neighborhood do-it-yourself fix-it shop need not fear the corporate giant. There are bigger stores for hard-core building projects, but Paradise carries everything the average home-improvement job might require: nuts, bolts, screws, assorted tools, faucets, toilets, and paint. And the large staff of helpful employees, all of whom speak both English and Spanish, won't make you feel like an idiot for not knowing what you call that little doohickey that holds the whatchamacallit together.