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Nailing Things Down

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Six years ago we began our journey into hardware store ownership. It was an exciting time, a plan was emerging from our minds on what we envisioned happening in our new business.

Wilkes County Hardware store front

Our official name became Wilkes County Hardware. Many folks still refer to us as Wilkes Hardware and wonder where Harvey is… lol he hasn’t owned the hardware store for many years. Gerald Lankford owned the store for 10 years before selling it to us. Harvey was the owner before Gerald.

Gerald Lankford, the former owner and dear friend

Gerald stayed with Richard for the first year so that he could learn all aspects of the business, including the pools.

Richard became a quick study of how to care and do maintenance on pools

The first year is still pretty much a blur… we decided to add a point of sale computer system instead of a basic cash register so that inventory could be monitored closely, & new fixtures went in. A major highlight of year one was the filming of our hardware store on NC Public TV.

Richard completely set up all these fixtures and began to move merchandise, key desk was also moved closer to back door

In the next few years, we added staff, continued to add new products into our lineup. One neat find inside our walls … when we opened up a space near the front entrance and found two doors that had been covered up for many years with pegboard. The captions that follow along with the pictures will chronicle the rest of our story.

These double doors had been covered in pegboard for many years!!!
Lawn & Garden items were dramatically expanded into the next few years of business ownership
Apple Festival… new hours for us we are open all day during the festival. The store used to close early on Apple Festival Day.
Logo gear was added to our hardware store… it all started with this original design
Added new locally based products into our store… these are best sellers around holiday time
The wood stove is always going strong on cold winter days… and folks love to stop by and warm on snowy days
The largest snowfall we have had since store ownership has been 16inches !!! Richard’s news clip from WXII made it onto the Today show
Need a great grill??? We are sold on Traeger grills
Dog friendly hardware store
Our customers love this potting soil
Keegan’s first pieces arrived at Wilkes County Hardware
Amazing new line of bird seed was added that our customers keep coming back for more and more..,
Here’s our first Meyers display… customers come from all over in order to purchase from our vast selection
Straight shot from back to front door… it took several years to get there but we are getting there as we still work on organizing
Always & everyday..,
A list of our hometown hardware store services
We love you always 💕
This small display is no longer found at our front door… the entire front is open now and wow!!! What a difference it makes!!!
Expansive selection of fasteners
Our hours were updated and changed to close each day at 5:30, so our customers could swing by and shop as they are on way home & still pick up essentials. We still currently close at 2pm on Saturday
Last day of school… retirement as a teacher begins and a new role as a full time hardware store owner begins…
The same view of the store captured in a series of two pictures
Ceiling fans installed
Harry’s Hot Dogs Event was an amazing success
Wayne is truly a key master… folks still come into the store just to have keys made by him
Keegan’s work has progressed into bigger and fabulous designs
Made in McGrady is an multi-talented husband & wife team, we keep their pieces in our store.
A favorite local WCH hat… deeply rooted into our store history
Wilkes County Honey, locally sourced!!!
COVID created an interesting time for small businesses to operate under. We are appreciative of your support
Teamwork with Cooks, the #wilcostrong initiative raised money for our community-Samaritan Kitchen
Locally sourced granola
The most devastating day in our ownership so far…
Customer rewards have been a huge success and the checkout process is easy & safe
A unique variety of locally sourced products
A paint line was added in early 2021
We continue to add to our logo gear… short sleeve, long sleeve, and sweatshirts
BBQ sauce that is absolutely delicious!!!
In 2021, Wilkes County Hardware launched a booth inside Carolina Treasures Antique Mall
We sell local pottery, each piece is handmade & unique
Locally sourced soaps!!!
Our drop off flag box is consistently full now that our customers realize what it is for.
We are so excited to begin another year of service in our community. Thank you for shopping with us at your favorite hometown hardware store, Wilkes County Hardware.

A Flood of Memories

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This past week marks a year of the flooding of our hardware store, August 13, 2020. I just realized that I never shared any pictures or stories on my blog about that day.

The afternoon had proved to be uneventful. We had a sudden downpour of rain. It lasted for several minutes. What we didn’t realize was that the drains in the back parking lot couldn’t keep up with the tremendous amount of rain that was coming down.

Our neighbors at Wilkes Lock Service were gone on a service call, which was not unusual. Their building was locked up. As the water continued to rise, the back door was pushed open by the flowing water.

The water was rising quickly and was knee high inside the lock shop before we were able to get through the heavy metal door that separates our businesses. It was blocked with debris and we were not able to keep the water from flooding into our business.

Water came up to the bottom of the fixtures, any higher and we would have lost significantly more merchandise

Panic set in. Water was everywhere. What could be moved easily and salvage??? In a stroke of luck I grabbed Richard’s computer bag. He had dropped it earlier in the day and left it behind the checkout counter before the water hit hard in that area.

We were extremely lucky that the water didn’t impact our technology, we pushed water away from here first
Water… everywhere!!!
Our wooden ladder wall took some time to dry out, luckily that the water level wasn’t too high

Our staff was few… Richard had left to run an errand. One quick phone call brought him back instantly. I’m very thankful for Luke… he came in from his day off and began dealing with the lock shop front door to release the rising water.

Check out the water line on the lock shop front door… the white line marks the water line 😬

The next few hours are still a blur. Friends rallied to help us. We all worked late into the night pushing water outside our doors, running a buckets from the empty elevator shaft to the front door. Fans & dehumidifiers were set up strategically in order to efficiently dry our floors and everything else.

We opened our doors to our customers the next day. It wasn’t a normal day, but our customers were kind and gracious.

The storms of this past week brought a lot of anxiety about this past experience. But there are some things we don’t have control over… flooding, tornadoes, etc. It is a hard reality when it is your livelihood & business.

So in closing, I’ll share an update on progress… Usually during every major rain storm, the town street department swings by to check on the drains. Thankfully, we have been very blessed without any breakthrough water issues. And this past May, the town has completed a major project at our back door to help the flow of water.

I’m deeply humbled. Our friends rallied to help us in a dire situation. We receive phone calls from a very kind individual every time it rains for an extended period of time. Our customers drop by to check to see if our store is ok after a hard rain.

The flood of emotions are real… it is still close to our memory… every heavy rain storm we worry still …but the kindness of our community has been an amazing gift.

Logistics

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Logistics… in the business world, this is essential & crucial part of doing day to day work. The logistical problems of 2020-2021 brought about by a pandemic event has made it even more difficult for business to be carried out. 😳The supply chain difficulties have been unprecedented! The hardware business has unquestionably been impacted by logistical problems.

Empty shelves are definitely not what a business owner wants to see

What are we truly talking about when we say the term logistics?Logistics is the management of the flow of things from an originating point to the point of consumption. In essence, how resources are acquired, stored, transported to an ultimate final destination.

Last year in 2020, gardening chemicals were extremely difficult to keep in stock

Please bear with me a moment & I will share a simple example…Making your morning coffee, you need a coffee pot, water and coffee right??? Your resources must be available- water, coffee, coffee maker, & electricity in order to get brewing. What happens if one of those things becomes unavailable??? No coffee right??? 😢😢😢😢😢

During the height of Pandemic life many people were stuck at home. Many people turned to the world of internet shopping in order to meet the wants/needs of their lifestyle. Internet orders skyrocketed! I’m sure this is not news to most of you as you read this. Let’s go back to the intent of this blog post… logistics. The pace of transporting goods to customers skyrocketed. Goods weren’t moving quickly to meet the demand of the consumer. The logistical line was broken. Pandemic life and logistical issues were commonplace.

I think the general assumption was that 2021 would rectify the problems of logistics and the supply chain. That has not happened thus far.

From a business owners standpoint, we can see so many issues in convergence at one time and point. Here is a quick overview of a few issues we see each week when it comes to ordering for our customers.

1. Raw materials shortages( metals, resins/plastics, pvc, peat, electrical components, pool chemicals…) I could go on but… well the list is long😳

2. Shipping delays from issues directly at port, staffing, increasing costs, congestion at port areas…

3. Allocation buying- limits being placed on what you can purchase

4. Bulk buying of 3rd party resellers… ultimately makes products unavailable for us( businesses) to purchase and increases your price online 😳

5. Trucking issues- equipment & staffing issues.. and more

6. Many companies are now staffing employees in shifts around the clock in order to try to keep up with consumer demand. It takes a bit of time to add an entire new shift, (ie..3rd shift into your business model)

7. The reality of what is actually happening from our customers standpoint maybe slightly different. The topic of conversation sometimes comes up when they ask for a product and we may/not have it on shelf at that moment. We have heard lots of outlandish viewpoints on the pandemic, some are thought provoking, and others very poignant.

8. Richard and I are “digging” into our available inventory each week in order to keep our shelves stocked. That may mean items are new, or temporary replacement items until our tried and true brands can become available for purchase again. Keep checking back with us for a specific item if we don’t have it on hand. Items often go out of stock for a few weeks and become temporary unavailable.

Always viewing our order for substitutions when products are not available and looking for great new products to bring into our hardware store!!! Research is constantly being done by both of us.

9. FYI: Hands down the most requested item in 2020 & 2021 mason jars and canning lids!!!

Most asked about item during Pandemic

As logistics concerns continue into the last portion of 2021, we are dedicated to the process of vigorously working through shortages, allocation buying and grimacing through the third party resellers who gobble up much needed items of our customers.

Lastly, my thankful words to our loyal customers and friends today, we truly appreciate you dearly for shopping local with us. The more you shop local, the money can stay within our community and add buying power for our small business.

Shopping Local

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Wilkes County Hardware had locally based products before we purchased the store. One of those legendary local products had to be the famous “Holly Farms BBQ sauce”. We keep it year round and it “flies off the shelf” 🐔🐔🐔for local Chicken-Q’s or backyard BBQ’s.

The BBQ sauce is sold in gallons or quart size….

Richard & I wanted to grow our local product offerings, and we put it in as a business goal to work on. Someone recently came into our store and assumed that we had picked up local based products because another business in town had closed their doors. I was shocked at that statement. My response was quick, “we have always hosted local artisans here, this is not a new thing for us.”

Keegan Watson’s woodworking has been inside our store since he began as a woodworker. We are blessed to have his products showcased in our store& to call him as our dear friend.

We have expanded our locally based products significantly in the last few years. I have more time to develop this part of our business model now in my retirement. Richard & I each hold different roles as business owners. We have taken and spilt various roles as business owners. New product development & merchandising, marketing are just a few of my roles.

One new product I added to our store lineup that our customers love… Meyer’s Clean Day… we have an excellent selection of these products inside our hardware store. Thanks for shopping local with us.

I hope y’all will enjoy a glimpse inside our locally sourced products, all located in your hometown hardware store. Here’s a closer look at our made in NC items & locally sourced products.

Blum’s Almanac… these are locally made in Winston Salem, NC
Ahhh… the seasonal favorite of so many of our customers… thank you so much for coming back to see us every year to purchase these wonderful cookies!!!
Wilkes County made honey by Kevin Foster, it is amazing to see how this stuff flies out the door like a little honey 🐝 bee !!!
Valley Forge Flags… made in the USA
A new product offering… pottery by Little Corner Pottery. Thank you to Lisa Pruitt for sharing her gorgeous pieces with our customers!!!
Land of Canaan Goat Milk soap by Kendal Finley Privette. These soap are aesthetically beautiful and selling fast!!! Welcome to our store!!!
Handcrafted by Keegan Watson, he continues to “bowl us over” with his amazing work!!!
Another amazing piece by Keegan… cutting boards are a great gift idea
For unique items… Chelsea Brown has got us covered. Eric & Chelsea design together as Made in McGrady… more pictures to follow
Rustic, & beautiful designs- Eric Brown makes his wooden cutting boards to withstand the constant use in the kitchen. Made in McGrady has been a huge part of our store for many years now. We love you dearly Eric & Chelsea!!!
Sometimes products come to us out of customer problem solving… Richard Cardwell began making these carpenter bed traps for us a few years ago out of need. We appreciate it!! Thank you!!!
Blackwonder soil builder… amazing new NC based product to add nutritional value to your clay soil or boost your plants growth. Get growing with this great product today!!
NC sourced BBQ sauces
Blake Farms made an appearance at WCH around Mother’s Day.. those hanging baskets didn’t last long
Baskets made by Betty Miller, locally made here in Wilkes County. Gorgeous work!!!
Amazing & quirky pieces by Gia, always a beautiful gift choice!!!
Making kitchen work lighter… these are locally made here in Wilkes County. Thanks Cindy for always sharing a batch of your handiwork with us.
Don’t be “bugged” by insects, we have a locally made insect repellent made here in Wilkes County!!! Thus doesn’t leave a oily residue on your clothes or skin.
Bee Wax Candles made by Gypsy Ridge Honey Farm, beautifully designed by Brandie Foster.
All of our logo wear is locally sourced through another local business. A huge thank you to Cooks Sporting Goods for believing in us, and working together with us for each unique design
Amazing flavor!!! A must try!!! Thanks for sharing your product with us!!! Great company to work with & NC made!!!
When masks were required, we found an excellent local source for these!!!
NC peanuts!!! These are selling fast!!! Also available at our pop up shop local at Carolina Treasures on Main
Made in the USA, locally found at WCH
Lavender soap.. can’t keep it on the shelf!!!
Made in Wilkes County… a go to snack but so much more!!! Brushy Mountain Granola is absolutely an awesome company to work with and a fabulous product… all flavors are equally delicious!!
This NC sauce is truly “Off the Hook”!!
Mark McMasters, a super nice guy!! This NC sauce is a great selling product
We sold out of these handcrafted stars at Christmas time, thanks Betty Miller
We source Molasses locally when it is available
Our pumpkins out front in the fall, locally sourced. Thanks JC!!!😊
These were locally sourced by our neighbors down the street, Cormoto Graphics. We are currently sold out of these.. would love to hear what type of stickers y’all would love to see next…
Yep, you truly can use it on everything. Great tasting food coming up!!!
Another view of Gia’s work 😍
We still have a few prints left by local photographer, Tate Finely, breathtaking views!!!
We appreciate y’all so much! Thank you for shopping local with us and supporting our small business and helping other artisans grow their respective businesses. Thank you!!!
Thanks for being a part of #thehardwarelife

The Clothesline

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I was walking around the hardware store yesterday checking the shelves for products that needed replenishment. I came upon a roll of clothesline. My mind began to instantly wander from the task at hand. My productivity waned… I was lost in my thoughts.

We sell clothesline at Wilkes County Hardware, even the old fashioned cotton type & clothespins

The memories came flooding back of my mom’s clothesline when I was growing up. We spent the Saturdays putting the sheets, & towels onto the clothesline. It was a time saver for mom, not having to run the dryer all day after working all week.

My sister and I both had “jobs” while we were assisting hanging clothes on the clothesline. We both were too young to reach the clothesline for ourselves. We had it down to a well-oiled system. One of us carried the old metal dishpan outside into the fresh, clean air towards the line. Of course the clothespins were in hand too. Once we were at the line, I handed mom each piece of laundry from the dishpan, while my younger sister, delved out the clothespins. Mom hung the laundry in sync with the wind. The whole process didn’t take long.

Mom used an old metal dishpan like this one, wet laundry was too heavy in the laundry basket… of course I asked her why she used this when I was little…

Now, memories are often nostalgic… so I must say that my mom’s memories of these Saturdays at the clothesline are probably different from ours. She probably remembers the trips out to the clothesline where we both complained about the weather being too hot, or bees flying too closely, or even those hateful chestnut burrs that were close by waiting to prey on our innocence toes/feet in the late summer/early fall months. I know complaints were definitely lodged… but we always finished our task, hanging the laundry out to dry.

Oh… those chestnut burrs were rough on the feet!!!

I’m glad my sister & I were able to experience so many wonderful things during our childhood that are now seemingly falling away into the past.

Everyone used to have a clothesline… now I bet that if you still have a clothesline in 2021, you are a rare lucky person.

Back to nostalgia, as we both grew older, mom sent us out to the clothesline to hang or even harvest the freshly dried clothes. I took them down while my sister held the fresh loot.

I can still smell the scent of the sheets & towels dried outdoors. Nothing was better than those air dried sheets on your bed at night.

However, I do recall, that towels and washcloths from the line were not a favorite of mine. They were a little too rough for my liking. We used the line mostly for sheets anyways.

My dad eventually took the old chestnut trees down and made way for some new backyard landscaping as I got older. The clothesline was used less frequently as we got older.

But that clothesline was a constant in my backyard during my childhood. Things change as do people. I will always cherish those good memories of times spent together at the clothesline, soaking up the fresh outdoor air & sunshine.

Supper vs. Dinner

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Sometimes in conversation as I remember talking to my Granny at the end of the day, I would ask her what they both had for dinner. As she began to talk about her meal, I soon realized that she was referring to her mid-day meal, not her evening meal. My vocabulary was not the same as hers. I quickly learned that her view of supper/dinner was different from mine. Does it matter? Well, I guess it is all about perspective.

A major NC magazine in our state just recently published an article about Sunday Suppers. It was well done. I’m not going to rehash the intent of that article. But, it did bring back up all those supper/dinner conversations that I had with my granny came to my mind when I read the article.

So upon reflection, I began to ponder my usage of “dinner”. I use the term “dinner” all the time to gather my family to the table, but the reality is that we really are seated for “supper” instead.

Why supper??? The word supper is less formal. Dinner can be a full fledged event with fancy dinner napkins, china, etc. But, when we gather at home, it is not a formal affair. Our family is blessed to have passed down to us, the antique farm table that was in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. The table is definitely not formal by any means, and it is the only table around which we gather to eat. At this farm table we engage in the conversations about the day, hold discussions about local events/news, and let the puns roll. (Our form of making our son roll his eyes 👀 at us.). Supper at our house is a time to simply gather, eat together & unwind from the day.

This was modeled well in my family as a young child growing up. All four of us always ate together at the table in the kitchen. As they say, “old habits die hard”. Meals gathered as our family unit or shared with friends are a strong part of my memories of home.

Now in present day, the weekends are probably the most relaxing suppers we get to have as a family unit. Saturday evening supper is probably one of my favorite times. This tends to be the meal when we can relax, kick back at the end of the day. Saturday supper tends to be one of our Traeger nights- smoking a good piece of meat, or grilling up fish, or whatever is on sale at the grocery store! Do you guys do that too???

Saturday supper doesn’t have to be all fancy, high dollar meals that breaks your budget 💵. Sometimes supper is quite simple at our house–homemade chili beans, or biscuits in a Lodge skillet & country ham, maybe even soup and Traeger grilled cheese sandwich, or lastly, a crockpot meal that we all love.

So I guess when I call my family to say, “dinner is ready”, I really mean supper because that equates to family time. 😊

Happy Supper Saturday y’all !!!

Splashing into Summer

Memorial Day is fast approaching, for many people, this holiday weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer. It is also for us, one of the busiest times of the year.

Pool season has already been underway for us… lots of prep before the pools can open safely. Many people may not be aware, but we do the day to maintenance on two local pools.

Before a pool opens, lots of hours go into the process as many pool owners know

The extra effort, hours, and labor usually comes after we close our doors each day or before we open in early morning, so that these pools can be accessible to guests when they need them. Days are often long during pool season.

Richard was very thankful to have Gerald’s experience & expertise in the pool business when we purchased the hardware store 6 summers ago. Gerald was very gracious and stayed with Richard that first summer to help him through that first big pool season. We are extremely thankful for Gerald and all of his knowledge, & kindness that he continues to share with us each visit in our hometown hardware store.

At Wilkes County Hardware, we have a “wall of fame” of the previous owners. I love this picture of Gerald.

Local Pool owners are returning to Wilkes County Hardware in order to begin the process of opening up their pools, gathering pool chemicals, & having pool water tested…(The trail of unusual water bottles samples has started… from jelly jars to empty water bottles. Each water bottle sample is unique to each pool customer.) Some folks are doing great with pool maintenance and are just stocking up on pool supplies.

Pool water samples come in all shapes and sizes…

One significant change this year is the absence of chlorine tablets due to ongoing shortages. We have “plunged right into the waters” answering phone calls, & taking questions regarding chlorine tablets.

At this point, we are currently out of stock in chlorine tablets. We have plenty of granular chlorine available for purchase in 25 pound tubs and 100 pounds. We are hopeful that the shortage will not continue.

One notable conversation point that has been noticed, is that some customers are unsure about how to use granular chlorine.

Granular chlorine works in a very similar manner as one would shock the pool water & usage of granular is the same as “shocking” the pool.

In order to use granular chlorine effectively, take a clean 5 gallon bucket add some pool water then add granular chlorine. You never want to add water after the granular chlorine, it could create a volatile reaction!!!! Always begin with water. Stir mixture … 15-30 seconds … with a suitable “stick” (wooden paddle, handle, pvc pipe). Pour about half mixture into pool and add in more pool water into bucket and stir again. Pour remaining granular chlorine solution into pool.

Always use a bucket to stir up chlorine… often times he will use a bucket to stir up other types of pool chemicals as well to ensure even distribution into pool as to not have it sink to bottom.., as this photo demonstrates

As always, we are available to answer any questions you may have in regards to your pool. Richard spends on average 10-15 minutes with each pool water test he completes, answering & doing a quick analysis for each customer… at no charge to the customer.

Each pool water analysis is free, the information is often invaluable to a pool owner!!!

We hope that each customer will leave empowered with knowledge of how to “dive” into pool water chemistry and have fun splashing safely all summer long.

Happy splashing this summer y’all 😎