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Handcrafted with Keegan

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Iconic pieces… what else can we say about Keegan’s woodworking????
Join us today in our spotlight story about how Wilkes County Hardware teamed up with Keegan…. if you missed the other blog posts in this series then make sure you check them out as well.
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One of my treasured Keegan bowls at home.

This story begins with a house… a young & newly married couple purchasing a home, just up the street from our hardware store. They often came into our store to make purchases as they were working on the new home DIY project list.

I knew Melanie from work, as a fabulous band teacher. We taught at the same school for a period of time. Conversation & laughter was always easy with these two people. They tackled many home projects. Over time the projects were completed, & they settled into their new home.

Then, Keegan decided to explore woodworking as a hobby in 2018. Keegan brought us a few samples of his workmanship. They were impressive.

Some of Keegan’s first pieces at Wilkes County Hardware

As Richard and Keegan talked one evening, he asked us if we would be interested in possibly adding a few of his pieces inside our store. Our answer was a quick YES!!! Handcrafted with Keegan has not slowed down since.

Keegan has been steadily adding new handmade items to his business. Keegan is always experimenting with new designs, new handmade product offerings. He is an amazing craftsman & a true friend. I’m always amazed at the talent & hard work that he continues to bring to his business.

Handcrafted cutting boards
Farmhouse Tables
So many bowls to choose from!!!

Keegan has a diverse skill set, and talented in many different areas. Not only is Keegan a DIYer, accomplished musician, cook, woodworker, well… the list is long😌. I believe the term, “Renaissance Man” would apply.

Thank you Keegan for always making us smile. We truly appreciate your support and come support Keegan by purchasing his products at Wilkes County Hardware.
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Keegan Watson with his handiwork


FYI: Make sure you check out the photos today. The first pic is from a Keegan bowl that he made last year from a piece of wood we found upstairs in our building. It is a special treasure for sure💕, they all are!!!

Hardware Life

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I just realized that my last blog post was written a few days before my grandmother died. Honestly, I haven’t had the time, or the motivation to write much since her death😢.

I have been “MIA” in the hardware store over the last few weeks . I know my absence makes it harder for my husband and our staff to work effectively. I owe them a special treat for sure!!!

When I’m not there, I miss it. Yes, I do work with my husband every day and we have survived 😉… but seriously, I do miss our customers when I can’t be there.

The photo I provided for you today is a lovely gift that was on the front counter when I arrived late Tuesday afternoon💕💕💕.

Today I’m sending out a “huge thank you” to our friends, Eric & Chelsea Brown, better known as Made in McGrady. You can find them featured in several of our social media posts.

On social media I often use the hashtag, #thehardwarelife for our hardware store posts. The “hardware life” is continuing to evolve as we come up on our 5 year anniversary of hardware store ownership.

So after these first 5 years of ownership, I’m reflecting back on what #thehardwarelife actually looks like in real life??? Here is a small glimpse inside our daily lives…#thehardwarelife.

1. First and foremost our Hardware store staff & local artisans have become our family too!!!! I’m so proud to work with such fabulous professionals and have created great friendships with this new journey in our lives.

2. Community… you folks drive us each and every day to meet your needs in the hardware industry. We continue to add new products based on customer requests and availability.

3. Hardware doesn’t take the day off- we typically work 7 days a week (both of us) … always doing something related to business that needs to be addressed…. Early mornings and late days… most days it is literally “sleep, eat, hardware, repeat”. You have to love what you do in order to work that hard, right???

4. Anyone know a logo we use at Wilkes County Hardware???? I would bet if you are a social media follower of ours, then you know our key logos. Wilkes County Hardware t-shirt or hat anyone??? Yes, we have definitely been busy over the last few years working on building some great merchandise options for y’all. I bet you will find that if you see us out and about in town, we are sporting a hat or something else with a Wilkes County Hardware logo. Hardware work is a big part of our day.

One of our best selling logo hats

5. It is very common to come home dusty and dirty after a long day at the hardware store. I like to call it the “100 year old dust” phenomenon. The vintage, rustic nature of our hardware store brings in the dust and dirt … cleaning up is a constant and hard to keep up with 🤪!!! We all (staff) tend to joke that some of the dust has been here for💯 years!!! 😂😂

6. You have to dress for the weather as part of #thehardwarelife. At Wilkes County Hardware, we are subject to the “all natural” air conditioning- yep… no AC in our building… the doors let in the breeze. We installed new ceiling fans last summer to improve air flow. A dramatic change for our staff & customers!!! 😎

7. That smoky wood stove smell… Everyone who enters our store usually will find and ask about our old wood stove. We use the wood stove as our main heat source in the winter… the further you move away from the stove, the heating difference is dramatic on cold weather days🥶. The wood burning smell lingers in your clothing… well you smell… let’s just say… like the great outdoors. 🌳🌳🌳

Our wood stove is a constant source of heat

8. Hardware is hard work- truck deliveries… heavy lifting- 50 lbs bags, walking on concrete floors, thread& cut pipe, cutting chain, screen wire , window glass, this is just a small list of what we do everyday.

9. We really do live a simple lifestyle… we eat most of our meals at home, grilling is essential of course all year long , we 💕our dogs, & spending time with family /friends

10. Wilkes County Hardware encompasses more than the 1,700 square feet of hardware floor space we offer to our customers, the heart of our store is you!!! ❤️

In 2015, #thehardwarelife was a dream, now it is our purpose in life. So to those of you who have been faithfully following along via social media channels, we appreciate y’all making the journey with us and helping us be a bridge to a wider audience. I continue to be amazed at how our followers continue to grow in size, & scope- organically, the way it should be done. Thank you 😊

Let’s Talk Turkey

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Many local residents of Wilkes County probably do not realize the important connection of Thanksgiving and our historic building. So today it is time to talk some serious turkey history!  Our local newspaper, the Wilkes Journal Patriot, published a newspaper article several years ago about the famous turkey drives in Wilkes County.  I am basing some of my facts and information on that old news article and information from local oral history, that we love to tell to our customers and newcomers to our store. I hope you enjoy the “Turkey Tale” today.

EE Eller Produce Co.  was one of the largest turkey and chicken wholesalers, and a major processing center for local farmers to bring turkeys/chickens into North Wilkesboro. Ironically, it was the first poultry processing plants in our town, well before the days of Holly Farms, & of course later on Tyson. Mr. Eller placed his business, as you may have guessed, yep, in our current building on the corner of 10th Street and D Street in North Wilkesboro.

Farmers would literally herd their turkeys from down the mountains in Ashe, Watauga, & Alleghany Counties in order to process/sell their flock. Could you imagine the sight that it must have been??? All of the sudden the flock of turkeys appeared on the roads in Wilkes!!!! Men guiding them with corn along the way,  flock of turkeys gobbling, wings flying everywhere!!!! I would imagine that the sight of this was pretty common in the early 1900’s in rural Wilkes County. I bet the turkeys never suspected any “fowl play” on their journey.  The  old newspaper article did say that one of the largest turkey drives that ever was processed by Mr. Eller was 1, 500 turkeys in one drive!!!

Once a flock of turkeys arrived at EE Eller Produce, they were processed/ dressed for shipped via train. Our local train station was just down the street from our store location.  The train destinations were mostly in Northern states after leaving the North Wilkesboro station. According to local oral history, it is estimated that Mr. Eller processed at his height of business, 1 million chickens and turkeys!!!! Guess that was all “gravy” for him after that!!!!

So Thanksgiving has a new meaning for us as store owners. We are caretakers of not only our business, but caretakers of local Thanksgiving history. Our town is rich in local history and our building that we reside in today as a hardware store is a great part of that legacy. We are grateful, thankful and blessed. Thank you to all who continue to support our local business, you are giving life to our local history as well.

In closing, Wayne, one of our employees will tell you that every once in while he will see a lone feather coming flying out of the ceiling.  We all joke that it is the chicken ghost or the “poultrygiest”. I have never witnessed this, but he has many more years inside this building.  Ok, enough of the “turkey talk” and time to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

 

 

FYI: IF you have not read the post, “The Chicken Ghost” , check it out

“The Chicken Ghost”

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The tale I am about to unravel goes back way in history to the beginnings of our store… well, actually before it was a hardware store. Our original building was constructed in the late 1800’s and was burned in a fire. The owners rebuilt and instead of a wooden structure, & replaced it with brick, our current building today. 

In the early 1900’s, our building was known to all the Wilkes local folks as EE Eller Produce. Mr. Eller was a major poultry processing “plant” where local folks would bring in chickens, and turkeys for processing.

The processed animals were loaded up on the Railroad tracks just down the street. It was a major operation that farmers routinely made their journey into North Wilkesboro. I have been told that over 1 million chickens and turkeys were processed in year!!!! Now that you have just a bit of historical background information about our building, our story can officially begin. Here we go…

A few years back during the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival we had a gentleman who was visiting with us in the hardware store and he began to tell us about his experiences inside our old, historic store…. this gentleman had spent some time with our neighbor next door and he stayed in his “man cave”.

Our neighbor had let this man stay in his “man cave” for a few months until he could figure out where he wanted to go and what direction life would take him next. This gentleman said that he would often wake up around 2 am.

He reported that he regularly heard at night… chains dragging across the floor and sounds of chickens. He never could see or find anything unusual once he went to investigate. This man then continued with his story, by stating “now I know all of this is true because I am a reincarnated Buddhist, Catholic, priest, I can sense that things happened here”. Lol 😂 how strange right???

Our conversation moved to other topics and we of course were super busy in the mix of Apple Festival Day and we all laughed about the story the man told us that day and continued on with our business. Maybe he was being a real “comedi- hen”… 😂

Sometimes when the shopkeepers bell rings without an apparent reason, we always joke, “it must be the chicken ghost” going back to the gentleman’s story on Apple Festival. Lots of times we think it is the wind catching the door, elevation change of the door position, etc. We can usually explain it away….

It is hard to explain the random chicken feather that just floats down from the ceiling… you wouldn’t think that would still happen after all these years???

Now, I”ll share this piece of information with you as well… we have had a few paranormal/ghost hunters to come into our store to ask if they could set up after hours. They thought it would be a great location and the paranormal activity was showing up on equipment. We have always declined the request of these folks.

The last aspect of our story goes back to the blog post that I did a few weeks ago entitled “Messy Monday”, it was one of those very busy days and our cash register/credit card machine were not working-via no internet plus we had lots of other factors playing into that day that made it a very long and hard day. 

After supper, Richard went back to the store that night to try to make sense of the day, clean up somewhat, etc. He did not get back home until after 10:30 pm that night— here is what he told me the following day.

“I was standing near the front cash register looking down at something and all of the sudden I heard a huge SLAM sound on the front doors, ironically, the shopkeeper bell never moved.” He then continued by saying that he looked up because he just knew someone was outside possibly walking a dog on the street or someone had run into the front door from the outside… it was dark of course but nothing had alarmed or signaled on the cameras at the front door. He could see no one or nothing alarming. 

Could it be the “chicken ghost”???? I suspect it could be “fowl play”.   OR even a “poultry geist”😂.

Happy Halloween to all!!!

 

Home in 2020… a look back

Many of us have spent a great deal of time at HOME in 2020. Just a couple of closing thoughts on HOME for you today as we look back at life in 2020.

2020.. simple joys return into our family Christmas traditions, the return of the Advent Calendar
  1. Home is where you belong, & are loved
  2. Home should tell your story of who you are, and be a showcase of your collection of treasures- albeit the things you love , in whatever form those treasures might be in- human, animal, plants, objects, etc
  3. Home can be a feeling, do you have multiple places where you truly feel at “home” when you are there???
  4. Some folks travel around the globe searching for home
  5. – When we leave home, we leave something of ourselves behind.
Our new bundle of Joy
Bella, our sweet Basset Hound

How we HOME has not really changed in 2020. We still have those essentials in place. Y’all may have DIYed in your home this year to reflect new needs within your home, but those beautiful memories are still strong.

Still having that first cup of coffee the day… time to relax and plan for the day
One of our most popular posts in 2020, our DIY painted floor

Y’all have made our small business HOME . We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for your continued support during 2020. We truly appreciate it. We are looking forward to another great year in 2021 as your #hometownhardware store.

A favorite gathering spot.. around the wood stove at Wilkes County Hardware

2020… “a year that will live in infamy”

As a retired history teacher, this day many years ago, was a watershed event in American history. Famously stated now by our former President, Franklin Roosevelt, “December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy-the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

How Americans lived and worked simply turned on a dime after this tragic day. America quickly entered into World War II and wartime life began.

My grandfather in his Navy uniform. He enlisted during WWII as a young man.

The significance of history sometimes makes me consider the present day… in 2020, our world has experienced one of those unique watershed events, fighting a pandemic.

No, we may not have sent troops into full combat across the globe to fight against tyranny. But for many folks, 2020 will be a year that will go down in “infamy “.

Those like my grandparents who were part of the Great Depression/WWII Era, were called the Greatest Generation, rightfully so, in my opinion.

Granny & Papa in their early years

The “Greatest Generation” was given the name by news anchor, Tom Brokaw. These folks contributed to war effort, fought in war, & helped however they could because it was the right thing to do. They also worked in war production plants, & rationed… yes, they sacrificed… they didn’t have the basic necessities so the troops could have them during the war. Meatless days, Wheatless days, no sugar, coffee, & gas rationing. What an amazing group of people who made our nation stronger! If you still have these folks in your life, hold them dearly in your heart & prayers each day.

Ration books, codes

What will history reveal about life in 2020 Pandemic Life??? Will it be a “Greatest Generation Scenario” where folks did everything they could??? Or will it be a more muddled view???

My mind goes back to the old Thomas Paine passage from the American Crisis, “ These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer solider and sunshine patriot will in times of crisis shrink, from the service of their country…”

2020 has brought trying times. No need to elaborate. People are struggling everywhere, sickness, quarantine, economic struggles, business closings… the list is long.

Thomas Paine wrote these words during the American Revolution. By the way, the word revolution, it is a synonym for change…. we talked a lot about this in history. It doesn’t have to be a “change” in governmental structure. Case in point, The Industrial Revolution- so much change occurred in our world during this time.

Think about how our lives have changed in 2020… new ways to teach students, working from home, zoom, curbside business, to go orders only at restaurants, the list is long and still changing daily. Life in 2020 has been revolutionary whether we realize it or not.

I must admit, at times, I wanted to shrink away and just go hide. The difficulties of 2020 have been relentless in my world. I would bet that we all have had those days… but 2020 experiences have made me a stronger person. I’m still here, working through different situations as they arise, one at a time, using friends & family and prayer as my anchors.

The revolutionary quote by Thomas Paine continues, “ but he who stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman”. In other words, we need to have strength to continue on.

Stay strong. Be safe. Practice social distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands. Follow the science. Do all the right things, like our grandparents did during WWII.

We are now experiencing some of the darkest times of the pandemic, our numbers seem to continue to rise more and more each day. Let’s end 2020 with Hope…. Such a small word, HOPE. The power it holds is mind boggling.

Quite mornings… beautiful sunrise always a beautiful way to begin a day… Hope springs anew

I leave you today with more words from the World War II Era, just like I began this blog post… Winston Churchill’s famous line from WWII, “we shall never surrender”. In the speech he gave, he told the people of his nation, “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields…” in other words, he told them, we are not giving up. We will press on… The “Greatest Generation”.

So I guess that could be a significant lesson for us today in 2020. Not giving up, always seeking answers, finding solutions to difficult problems. “Never surrender”. Go find your hope today.

Hope

Made in McGrady…

Over the last 5 years we have been blessed to acquire some pretty amazing product offerings for our customers. Since December is gift giving season, I thought it might be a good time to share a few of our favorites with y’all this December.

Don’t forget to read the other posts in the series…

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Made in McGrady had posted another beautiful piece on their social media page. I had been captured by their talent from earlier posts I had viewed. The latest post was showcasing a wood slice ornament on social media. I loved the rustic look of the ornament. I sent a direct message to them inquiring if they could make something similar for us at Wilkes County Hardware. They replied quickly and they were able to design & deliver exactly what I had in mind.

Here is the original ornament that created our collaboration

These two folks were great to work with us, and come to find out, they were regular customers inside our hardware store. Double win!!!!

We sold the Wilkes County Hardware wood slice ornaments well in 2018. After that Christmas season, we asked Eric & Chelsea to continue to bring us beautiful pieces as they made them. What a fantastic husband & wife duo!!!

You can find Made in McGrady handmade items at Wilkes County Hardware. We now have cutting boards, handmade rolling pins, seasonal signs, magnets, candle sticks..,etc.

This piece has found a beautiful spot in our home as well. The message is simple but lovely 💕

We are blessed to know such talented people as business owners & friends. Come shop local with us and Made in McGrady, for those unique one of kind, & custom made gifts.

Made in McGrady designed this custom piece for us as well 💕

Stories behind the products… Moravian Cookies

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Over the last 5 years we have been blessed to acquire some pretty amazing product offerings for our customers. Since December is gift giving season, I thought it might be a good time to share a few of our favorites with y’all this December.

Moravian cookies were always a traditional part of celebrating Christmas morning with the Searcy family. We would open gifts on Christmas morning, usually around mid-morning and Martha, Richard’s mother, would have Christmas snacks prepared for us to munch on as we opened gifts and checked our Christmas stockings.

Typical Christmas Traditional food fare- Moravian cookies, fudge, sausage balls, date balls , fruit cake cookies, & coffee.

So when the opportunity presented itself to have Mrs. Hanes Moravian cookies at our store a few years ago, we definitely wanted to add this wonderful product to our customer offerings. We knew that many people traveled to Winston Salem in order to have these special cookies just for Christmas gatherings, like the Searcy family. Now the trip is much easier, just to town to visit with us at Wilkes County Hardware.

Shop local with us and make Mrs. Hanes cookies a new Christmas tradition for you and your family this season.