When we purchased Wilkes County Hardware in 2015, the store hours were different from what we observe now. The hours were like they say “banker hours”. We were open everyday at 7:30am to catch the early birds and closed at 5:00pm on most days…the exception being Wednesday afternoon and Saturday. Both Wednesday and Saturday, the store always closed at 12:00pm. It was hard to believe that in 2015, that stores were closing at 12:00 in the middle of the workday, observing that old “banker” tradition.
What was the “bank hours tradition” that I am speaking of? Well, when I was growing up in North Wilkesboro as a young child, I can remember that banks always closed early on Wednesdays. It was just done that way here in the South. Why? You may ask, because the banks used that afternoon to do paperwork. Other people say it was to catch Southern farmers coming into town on Saturday because in the middle of the week, they were always too busy to be in the midst of downtown North Wilkesboro, NC. So the former owners of Wilkes County Hardware, carried on the tradition for years, keeping up those old bankers hours. Many local folks knew and anticipated our closing every Wednesday, and would make sure they came in the store before 12:00.
Richard kept the hours the same for a few months and he began to notice a significant trend. People were coming up to our doors and it appeared that shopping after 12:00 was necessary for lots of folks in town! Richard would often still be there working on paperwork and was seeing a trend that we needed to address quickly. After discussion with me, we formulated a plan on how to move forward. We would launch a massive social media campaign in order to let people know our new store hours for Wednesday afternoon. Richard also planned to update the store hours on the doors as our customers enter our historic building. The Wednesday “banker” hours are long gone now and seem to be just a memory. Occasionally, even now, we do have a few people to call the store and ask what time we close on Wednesdays, and they are pleasantly surprised when we say 5:00pm.
Saturdays was another one of those oddball 12:00 days for closing time for Wilkes County Hardware. The store was always busy in the late mornings and often the 12:00 push for customers to get in and out before closing… well I’m just going to say it—- it was hard to close the store and not let our customers shop and do what they needed to do, and many Saturdays we did hold closing until our customers were finished with shopping- after 12:00pm. So Richard and I talked about this one too and we decided upon 2:00pm to close. That has been a good change for our store. Out of town customers can make it to us in plenty of time, shop with leisure, & ask questions about the history of our store. We did the same ads, social media launch with changing store hours as we did with the Wednesday hours and got the word out to our community. Our regular store customers can purchase what they need before they get too deep into a weekend project, seek advice, purchase that speciality nail or screw, or even have pool water tested.
Richard and I are currently in discussion about store hours for our future, extending shopping hours to 5:30 or 6:00. We posed a question to social media followers and fellow customers a few weeks ago to survey their interests in the extension of shopping hours to 5:30 or 6:00pm. I am just going to say our customers are absolutely awesome!!! They gave us great feedback. They said 5:30, not 6:00. Our feedback was positive & very honest. Many customers stated, “you guys need your family time too”. Let me just tell you, our customers are super!!!! What an honor it is to work in such a fabulous community! I am anticipating that we will be making an announcement in a few weeks about our new updated store hours.
What I have found in the trend of store hours is flexibility is the upmost importance. Observing customers and how they are interacting with our store, looking for patterns for when they seem to be coming into to our store… early? late in day??? and of course the “old school” method we love to use at our store- just to simply ask our customers what they need. Happy Hardware Shopping Yall!!!!:)