Restaurant-supply stores can be puzzling and overwhelming–some are as crowded and disorganized-looking as old-fashioned hardware stores–but they can yield up treasures and also be fun to visit. They’re designed to meet the needs of professionals, but there are good reasons for home cooks to consider shopping in restaurant-supply stores: the durability and quality of the merchandise, the competitive prices, and the availability of many specialized tools. They’ll probably have the item you want, and in many different sizes. Toni Lydecker tells you how to shop in these special stores. She lets you know what’s great to buy there (a sidebar lists kitchen tools they stock that will have home cooks drooling, and adds an extra list for bakers); she points out which professional-grade items aren’t suited for home use; she reminds us that sturdy dishes and glassware can be a bargain. Most important of all, she gives us a course in shopping etiquette. These stores don’t operate the same way as retail stores, so a little “cultural awareness” will make your visit more pleasant and productive.