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“The Chicken Ghost”

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. The original building was constructed in the late 1800’s and was burned in a fire. The owners rebuilt and instead of a wooden structure, they 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”. 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.

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….

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”.   Happy Halloween to all!!!

 

Hygge “hoo-gah” in the Fall Season

What is hygge? It is a Danish word for coziness, warmth, & comfortable living which brings about a feeling of contentment. Celebrate the everyday moments with ease… the art of simple living right???? This sounds really easy in theory but can we all slow down in life and truly put this into practice? I read about this about a year or so ago. I have not tried to put this into true practice yet. My life has always been extremely full of work, family and activities. Now that my lifestyle has changed dramatically, with retirement, I am devoting more energy and efforts into putting Hygge into our routines in daily living. Small progress is progress. Keep moving in the direction in which you wish to go. Right???

Hygge can be accomplished anytime of the year, but Autumn would make a great transition to begin practicing Hygge. So this is a personal goal of mine to put this into motion as I write this and no time like the present???  Today I am going only to focus on 5 key elements to bring in Hygge into your home- yes, these items can be located as conveniently in your local hardware store or even within your home.

  1. Lighting- This is a crucial element to bring Hygge into your home. Natural lighting can help to improve your productivity, happiness, calmness, & health. Wherever you can let the natural light flow in just do it!!!! Then think soft lighting- Mrs. Meyers scented candles, string lights, lamp lights, etc. Soft lighting areas creates a space that is soothing, calming and relaxing. I love to use string lights year round. One of my favorite places for string lights is around my kitchen window that overlooks my backyard. Early morning or late evenings, it is beautiful to see these lights glowing softly. The string lights have created “cozy corners” in my home. Lamp lighting helps to add softness/comfortable Hygge feeling to your home. We have customers who love their old lamps and they need repair parts for them. Our team members can help them find the replacement parts or even sometimes will do repair for them if it is more in depth than the customer expected.
  2. Bring the Outdoors Inside your Home- Autumn time is an easy time to bring the outdoors into your home. Decorate your home with pumpkins, pinecones, acorns, sticks, or any other all natural items that remind you of the Fall season. Handcrafted wooden bowls from our local artisans inside Wilkes County Hardware, would make a nice addition to your home decor. Don’t forget to add in greenery from the great outdoors or update your house plants with new pots. So many great options as the fall season begins. To add some Hygge to our home this year, I took one of my favorite wooden bowl that was filled with sea shells and added a few fall accents to the bowl. It has been so hot here in our state that it did not seem practical for me to put up my beautiful shells yet. I have the outdoors inside in a unique, rustic way.
  3. Food and Drinks- Yeah!!!! This is truly the comfort part of Hygge in my thinking. Oh my goodness, nothing is better than your favorite “comfort food meal” on a cool Fall day right???? We love homemade soups/chili at our house in the Fall and Winter.  Fall season is the perfect time for soups, stews, & casseroles. Is there nothing better than hot, homemade biscuits made in a Lodge pan or even freshly made cornbread???? The possibilities are endless. Gather your family with one of your favorite comfort meals and set up candlelight- going back to number one- soft lighting. Enjoy the family time laughing, and slowing down life one meal at a time. Speaking of slowing down, Hygee experts suggest that you should plan to make a dessert once a week…. make what you love and enjoy it….  Well, I guess I need to work on that one too!!! When it comes to drinks for the Fall season- think warm!!!! Hot cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or even hot apple cider. Curl up with a blanket and just get comfortable.
  4. Create Hygge Experiences with the Family- Hygee is keeping things simple…  host a game night with your family or invite friends, enjoy a firepit… this goes back to number 1- lighting …. fire light is very soothing to the soul. Kids and most adults  love to do S’mores – Wilkes County Hardware can make your S’mores experience great- 31 inch skewers!!!! They work great and are safe for kids to use. Think about how you could “unplug from the busy workings of the world”. It could be a movie night with no cell phones,  or playing card games, the possibilities are endless. Creating family Hygee experiences should slow the pace of living down, and help bring family together in a new way.
  5. Get Outside- It is time to connect to nature and disconnect from the world of technology. Yes, even working in your yard in the fall can be a great way to unwind from a long work week. Raking leaves with that new rake from Wilkes County Hardware, or working in your garden, in the cooler weather can help you to feel content as the seasons change. Take your family and go on a hike/walk, find a pumpkin patch and scout out the perfect pumpkin, pick apples at an orchard, the choices are endless!!!! Sometimes you just need to step outside, get a bit of fresh air, and remind yourself of who you are and what you want to be…..the end result of Hygge- connectedness to nature and self.

I hope that you find these tips to helpful as the seasons change, and as seasons in life change. Happy Hygge Fall:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brushy Mountain Apple Festival

If you are a local, you know the first Saturday in October is always the date set aside for the annual Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. This year will mark the 42nd year of festivities 🍎🍎🍎. It has become a bit a tradition for folks in these parts… either you flock to downtown North Wilkesboro and embrace the festival or you ignore the downtown area totally. There is not much in between. People either are ritual followers of Apple Festival or not. As a downtown merchant, we are in the first category. We love it! 🍎🍎🍎🍎

It is a unique way to experience the festival through the eyes of a downtown merchant. After purchasing the hardware store in 2015, we were told by our existing staff that they tended to close early on Apple Festival Day— they always worried about people asking to use the bathroom. We found out pretty quickly that it was not the case. In the past few years, only a handful a folks have ever asked to use our restroom. It was not a legitimate reason to close our doors to a very captive audience who are ready and willing to flood inside our doors to browse around and shop.

Many people who are Apple Festival 🍎goers return to our store to shop each year because they love being in our store. We love to see them each year. There are certain items they have come to expect to find in our store- Mrs. Hanes Cookies 🍪 for example…

It takes loads of preparation for Apple Festival. Usually at the August Hardware show, we always try to target some of our new product offerings to be in store by Apple Festival Weekend. We are well on track this year.

This year a few of our local artisans will be in store to talk to our customers as they are shopping. They get to see their products in store. Now our customers can put a face/name to a specific local artisan. I am hoping for a great showing for all!!!!

The morning of the Apple Festival 🍎 many craft vendors come inside our store to purchase last minute items they may need to finish up the setup process. That takes lots of planning on our end, & we have made a coordinated effort to stock essentials that might be needed- from the proper fire extinguishers, sharpies, duct tape, tarps, extension cords, etc.

Finally, that preparation is executed on the day of Festival… we arrive early to serve those vendors early- we set up our store beginning around 5:30am so we are ready to go, and we will work a long day- closing our doors as the festival breaks up and clean up begins.

Apple Festival is a big day, the crowds are usually big, and we love to see a full downtown. As a downtown merchant, it makes for a full heart ❤️ to see the streets packed with people and activity. Are you ready for the Apple Festival??? 🍎🍎🍎🍎

Hardware 101

Since my retirement as a teacher, my role has changed dramatically at the hardware store. I am continuing to learn more about the day to day business of hardware. It has been a great adventure of learning new things in the last few months. I have met many “new faces” of some of our regular customers that I did not normally get to see everyday. Here are some of my big take aways from the last few months of “Hardware 101”.

  1. Richard and I spoke with a new Orgill sales Rep. this week and he summed it up the best way, “Hardware is hard, honest work or it would be called “easyware” instead of hardware.” Some days are laborious, new stock to move around, truck days- stock replenishment… but when the work is done, it feels like a great accomplishment!
  2. The Midwest Fasteners display is like a huge “jigsaw puzzle”. For those of you who are not familiar with this company, it is a lot of bolts, screws, washers, etc of all shapes and sizes…. When a customer comes in the store to find that one single bolt to replace what they need- it like recreating a puzzle, it is magical once you find the right piece.
  3. Our staff- Wow!!! I am working with a team of guys who really do love what they do. I am so thankful that we all just work together to get things done,  & we can laugh together.
  4. My role as a business owner is evolving and changing as I continue to learn more and more about the business. Richard is extremely knowledgable about all components of the business. I am the “new entrepreneur” in the mix. I am doing “all things merchandising”with helpful input from the staff of course. New product acquisitions, local artisans contacts are continuous in our business and these folks are becoming our WCH family as well. We have been blessed to work with some fabulous local artisans!!!!  My role as the social media person has been ongoing since we purchased the business in 2015, and that is a daily task that I still enjoy.
  5. Our day to day customer base is amazing!!!!  I have met some great people who work hard everyday doing incredible work in all types of fields. We try to listen to what our customers need and wish to see in our store. New products are sometimes driven by customer demand and need for a product.
  6. We provide some amazing services to our community. Where else can you go in Wilkes to find all these services under one roof???? Pipe cut/threaded, glass cut, tool handle repair, kerosene heater wick replacement, knife/tool sharpening, pool water testing, window screen repair
  7. KEYS- what can I say… we do lots of keys for our customers, and they keep coming back because our keys work. Wayne does a fabulous job making our customers feel welcome at WCH.
  8. Our store layout has evolved over the last few years. We are still working on tweaking where products sell most effectively and what is convenient for our customers. We are continuing to look at product lines that are performing well and not so well.
  9. Locally sourced products are important to our customers. We sell local honey, bbq sauce, handmade soaps, knitted dishcloths, to name a few. The shop local attitude is strong amongst our customer base.
  10. And finally, “Love what you do, do what you love” is the most important thing to remember… and I am loving what I get to do:)

Messy Monday

The day began like any ordinary Monday.  I drove B to school, walked with my good friend on the Greenway soaking up all those great late summer morning vibes. It was absolutely fabulous morning to be outside.

Richard sent me a picture of the huge truck shipment that had just arrived at the hardware store. We made plans for the day. I would go home quickly after my walk on the Greenway and make a few sandwiches for lunch, then head into the store. The unpacking of the boxes would be an all day event. We had a plan.

I arrived at the store to find out that our computers were not working and the credit card machine was down. We were hand calculating every sale and handwriting every purchase… the internet was down!

Since the internet issues were not a quick fix and progress not being made quickly via phone calls, I had to leave to take care of other business for the store. Richard was embedded in the internet problem he was on the phone again with our current internet provider. So, I drove back across town to unlock a local pool padlock so folks could swim. Richard had not been able to leave that morning to go take care of that simple task. Upon my return, he told me someone was to call us within the hour to set up an appointment to take care of the internet issues.

We worked through lunch, helping our customers and time passed quickly because we were busy. In the retail world busy is always good! We did not receive a call from our internet provider, and our boxes were still there waiting to be dealt with. Another call to internet folks, someone would call us back soon was the promise.

Meanwhile, we worked on the boxes of store stock. Some of the items that had arrived in the boxes were some purchases from the Chicago hardware show. Funny thing though… we ordered 1 toaster and 1 iron to see how these new items would do as home essentials… in the boxes we found 12 toasters and 12 irons instead!!!! That was a bit of a surprise, of course we had to pay for those extra items when we received the truck shipment that morning. I called our Orgill rep and he came by to fix the error in shipping- thank you Steve!!!

Putting up store stock is not easy as opening the boxes and then finding where it goes. Everything has to be checked off, accounted for, ticketed correctly, and then placed in the correct location of the store. New items.. well, that does take longer because often you have to move products in order to make room for those new products.

Another thing to note: with the new tariffs, prices are consistently changing with any type of metal items.. so when any type of metal piece comes in it is ticketed and placed on the store shelf, it needs to be double checked to ensure that all of the current store stock is priced appropriately- all with the new price increase. This is a time consuming task, we have lots of small metal pieces… need I say more.

Late afternoon that messy Monday brought two more interesting events: 1.  our internet would not be restore until possibly Wednesday. That little nugget of news was a hard pill to swallow as a business owner. We began to problem solve for other possible solutions. 2.  A car pulled into one of the front parking spaces outside our front door. An elderly gentleman came inside our store while his wife remained in the car. He began to chat with us about what he needed. Suddenly, a huge POP sound came out from his car. From my perspective, it appeared that smoke was coming out from the engine. I thought the engine of their car had blown up. Everyone close by heard the noise and people started to gather to assist these folks. It was the front tire that had popped. They were so extremely lucky that the tire had not popped while they had been driving down the road!!! The smoke must have been from the tire.

In the midst of messy Monday, one thing was consistent all day… our customers were fabulous!!! They were patient, & understanding of a situation that we could not easily fix. Many people said, ” that is all right, I would rather shop local”, I don’t mind to pay cash today.

Even in those messy Monday moments when things seemed to be difficult, we were able to get those sweet moments from our customers who keep us going. This is why we do what we do, messy days or good days. They are all the same… you guys keep us going in the right direction.  Thank you!!! We appreciate your support!!!

 

🇺🇸 American Flags, “we remember…”

September 11th a day that many of us who are old enough, will always remember where you were located the moment you learned the news of what transpired that morning.

This post is not about the history of the September 11th attacks but the days & months after September 11th. “We remember…”

I remember with clarity in the days following the events of September 11th, a huge surge in American flag sales skyrocketed. People just wanted to show support for those who had lost so much in this awful tragedy. The trickle down was felt into all small towns within our nation. Our small town was absolutely experiencing the same…

September 2001 was well before we were hardware store owners. Richard was working for another company during this time. He would often see folks buying up American flags as fast as they were arriving inside the store. One day Richard was able to purchase one of those American flags for our new home. I was excited to have one coming! Richard had just texted me the news, he was finishing up an errand and would be home shortly. He was in town, and he left the flag in the car… the American flag was stolen out of his car while he was gone. Absolutely nothing else had been taken out of the car, just the flag was missing.

We didn’t get the fly a beautiful American flag at that time to honor those who had lost so much. I do believe that we as Americans all carry that patriotic spirit/sense of remembrance every day since the events of September 11th.

This experience with the loss of the American flag left an impression on both of us. Upon buying a hardware store in 2015, one of the first things we noticed was the American Flag flying outside the store everyday. We wanted to make sure that our customers could always find a high quality American flag in our store for purchase. So when we arrived in New Orleans (our first hardware show) we made sure to order from Valley Forge Flags to keep that tradition alive.

In 2018, we added another service for our customers- drop off old American flags for proper disposal. Our customers can leave an old American flag and we will make sure the Flag Code of the US in observed in the discarding of the American flag. Our community received this service well and plan to continue to do this well into our future.

American Flags… “we remember”…

Summer of 2019- A New Chapter in the hardware life…

Labor Day is over and this year the end of summer feels very different. I think you will be able to see as you read along today. It has been a life altering kinda summer for me and our business.

I officially retired as a teacher this summer. My “work” focus is now focusing on being a business owner in our community, which has opened up new avenues for creating change in our town and community.

Many people don’t fully understand why I would leave a state job early, so here is the deal—-It had become increasingly difficult to do both, teach & help with the business effectively, and be a Mom.

Honestly, Mom is my most important “job title” and I need to be there for the “big stuff.” This is the first year ever in his entire school career that I have the ability to pick him up/ drop him off at school. Of course I know it won’t be for long, because his drivers license is coming around the corner.

Before my retirement, I had struggled with my decision for quite sometime whether to continue to work and do both, but now I am at peace with my decision to leave my life’s work. In essence, I have just added a new passion to my life- hardware store life. Don’t get me wrong, I miss that look when students learn something new. I’m just turning the page on a new chapter…

Speaking of new chapters… Richard and I both turned 50 this year!!! A milestone birthday 🎂 So far 50 is great!!!!

So enough about all that personal stuff!!! Here is what we have been working on inside the store…

Below is a top 10 list of some of the wonderful things that has been going on inside our store:

1. Pool season has been in full swing and will be winding down soon for most pool owners in the next few weeks. Richard and Luke have kept a few neighborhood pools cleaned, & chemically safe for swimming. I can not tell y’all how much work and time this requires of these two!!!! Pool owners, I bet you understand. The fellas have worked every day to keep these pools clean 7 days a week!!! 😎

2. Richard and I spent some time at the Chicago Orgill Hardware Show this August looking at new products to offer up to our customers. Hardware shows are lots of fun and I may do a different post on that later.

3. This summer we also added several new locally made products to our store! These items have been received well by our customers and people keep coming back to purchase these items. We are very proud to offer these to our customers.

4. Some of our readers maybe aware that we made some staffing changes this summer. We are consistently heading in a positive direction to move into a new level sales, services, & great customer satisfaction for our community. Thank you for your patience and support as we all learn new skills😉

5. The first annual Harry’s Hotdogs was a huge success!!!! This was a absolutely amazing event to see people pouring into our store to eat a hotdog and remember Harry on his birthday. The funds raised went to North Wilkesboro Rotary Club- serving our local community

6. Wilkes County Hardware teamed up with Keegan Watson – local woodworking craftsman, during the Wilkes Art Gallery Art Walk Event this summer. It was great to see so many people in downtown North Wilkesboro

7. I’m still trying to figure out where my skill set fits best inside the store… I mostly work on merchandising, new product acquisitions, social media, and I have just started out learning some of the financial end of the business. My husband is invaluable in this business!!! He is a super busy guy😉.

8. Since we are a small hardware store, when new products arrive, we have to make “space” for new items. It is a challenge!!! We have been trying to find places for these new items and clearance items that are not moving. Inventory is always on our mind🧐 By the way , Eddie did a great job this summer moving some key products to new locations. It looks awesome!!!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

9. Our office space upstairs is coming along!!! We are so happy to have this quite space to work! We have more shelves and walls to paint, but our work areas are clearly defined👍🏻

10. FYI: we have a few new projects that we are seriously looking at, I have spent some serious time with these ideas this summer so stay posted for more details later this fall!!!

Here’s to the new chapter in the hardware life!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉Richard and I are working together as a team now to make hardware happen every day for our customers. Y’all, I am just gonna say, that is a very satisfying feeling!