Category Archives: Hardware Store Life

Dark Skies and Beautiful Light

“Only in darkness can we catch a glimpse of the fullest light“

We lost a dear friend late last week. It has been extremely difficult for me, Richard, and our entire staff to digest this loss. Monty was truly an amazing person. Those of you who also know him, will absolutely agree with me on that. His joyful laugh was infectious and he brought a lively nature into every conversation.

Monty has been a significant part of our team for the last few years. Monty’s work ethic, and life experiences was a model that other staff members noticed and worked to exemplify his success. Monty had the heart of a true entrepreneur. He was willing to take risks, try anything new, and discuss the potential and possibilities of “the what ifs”.

Monty came to Wilkes County Hardware during the Covid years. We couldn’t have been more blessed by his steadfast presence each day. His business experience was invaluable to both of us.
Monty was always the first one to acknowledge a customer who needed assistance. He also would step in and help out with any task… pictured here, Monty is helping Richard with measuring rope.

I’ve tried to wrap in my mind the impact he has left upon all of us… mentor, friend, and most definitely “hardware store dad” and dear friend to all of our staff. As a good dad model, Monty always had a kind heart, offering food those who were hungry, and even advice when you needed it. I’m not sure that I can fully grasp, and vocalize everything Monty has done for us. His daily life impact will be long lasting. Monty’s actions demonstrated that he truly cared for all of us and wanted only the BEST for every single staff member at Wilkes County Hardware and everyone he encountered in the surrounding community.

When the Smithey’s building burned last summer, Monty and Diane spent several hours with us as we watched and waited to see if our building would be impacted by the fire. We appreciate your friendship and love.

Grief is hard. I ask that y’all send prayers to Monty’s family, as the journey of grief is beginning. Monty loved his family. We also covet your prayers as we grieve and try to transition to life without him inside our store. Monty will remain a key part of our heart inside Wilkes County Hardware and we will carry his love with us forever.

Thank you Monty for bringing beautiful light into our world. We will miss you dearly 💕.

Nuts and Bolts

Work… the mechanical manifestation of energy, according to science. Work it could be said, is the “nuts and bolts “ of what we do each and every day. After all, nuts and bolts are not the whole of a project, they are only a portion of a project.

The successful concept of work today creates within the soul a feeling of pride, satisfaction of a job well done, and contribution back into your greater community in some type of capacity. Today I’m offering y’all an inside look at our hardware work… the “nuts and bolts” view of what we do each day.

Walking inside Wilkes County Hardware may take you back into a time of nostalgia… viewing our old building, wood stove, historic elevator, or even remembering a time when hardware stores used to be full service for the customer. We still do that each and every day. Our customers always come first! Customers are the essential element in our business, and that is why we are customer service oriented in what we do! Wilkes County Hardware is definitely more than a place to go pick up a few nuts and bolts.

They just don’t build them like this anymore, check out the size of those beams y’all!
Elevator view from top down
Wood stove heat keeps us moving and going in the winter months.
Our nuts and bolts aisle

Yes, we have several folks who stop by to shop our extensive selection of nuts 🔩 and bolts… whether you are looking to purchase one or two or even multiple boxes. But did you know that we do the following things as well??

1. Key duplication

Wayne is a popular guy in our key area! We duplicate keys, rekey locks, can make chip keys … ask us if we can help you out with your key needs

2. Kerosene wick replacement

Wick repair is ongoing, unsure which wick you need? We can find that for you too!
A work area for repairs like kerosene wick repair, tool repair, lamp repair

3. Threading and pipe cutting

Galvanized and black pipe threaded… if you have never done this, it is a labor intensive job and takes time to do it well. Kudos to Richard who does most of this laborious task.

4. Glass cutting up to 36 inches

This custom piece was recently done for a customer and it is ready to go!

5. Chain cut to exact length

Our display showcases the chain we have in stock and ready to go home with you! Measure twice, cut once… cut chain CAN NOT be returned please know how much you need before we cut it for you.
Folks often ask about what we use our upstairs space for… we measure and cut chain, tubing, rope, do window screen repair, window glass cut, and pipe threading is all done upstairs.

6. Basic lamp repair

Have a lamp that is acting all weird.. we can fix it for you or you can do it yourself with these simple pieces
Light bulbs, extension cords, fuses, and basic electrical supplies we will help you find what you’re looking for in order to get your to do list completed

7. Tool handle replacement

Replace your own if you wish!
Or we can do it for you!
Our lawn and garden section is usually a busy spot year round. Ask us if you have questions about a project, or product.

8. Pool water testing for free!

Pool water testing is always a good idea when you’re a pool owner
Wilkes County Hardware keeps a variety of pool chemicals in stock for sale

9. Roll pipe cut to length (most hardware retailers sell the entire roll) and copper pipe

Roll pipe cut upstairs
Copper cut to length or sold by roll
Need to do a small plumbing repair? We can cut these to length as well This display is found on the plumbing aisle.

10. Gas and plumbing fittings … including a good selection of Pex and Shark Bite

Compression fittings and flared fittings of all sizes
Our plumbing aisle is a bustling place on most days

11. Vast selection of furnace filters

Ask us and we will gladly help you find your size of furnace filter

12. Window screen repair

This is a basic list of our service offerings.

13. Knife and scissor sharpening

Working on a knife 🔪 for sharpening

As y’all can see we work hard to be a full service hardware store for our customers. Our goal is to keep our customers coming back to us for all of the things that they need for any project. Thank you for being a great part of what we do each and every day whether it is a purchase of nuts and bolts, a key or even a bag of bird seed. We couldn’t be here without you!

Coles bird seed has become a very popular item for our regular customers
You need to clean it or scrub it, we can probably help you!!

And we have locally sourced items too!!!
Locally made soaps, candles, pottery, & woodworking
Stop by and find some “Great Stuff” that you didn’t know existed inside our historic walls. Sorry for the pun y’all.

So there it is… the “nuts and bolts” of the hardware life daily work. Stop by and see us soon. We appreciate your support of our small business. YOU are the part that holds all of our work together in our nuts and bolts analogy. Thank you for joining us in our journey of the hardware life for the last seven years.

2022 Memories and Favorite Photos

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is almost in the books! Sharing a few moments with y’all from our hardware life from this year in the form of pictorial memories and a few of my photo favorites.

We welcomed Cookie into our home in January. She was found abandoned at a local car wash, very thin and wet. The top pictures depict her thin size when she was found/first came home. On December 26th, 2022 she weighed in at the vet at 21 pounds…. She is definitely living the good life now.
Beautiful blooms in January 2022
January snow 2022
Hardware show in Orlando, back in person! Richard & Steve Foster
The freight elevator from a unique perspective, top down view … yes, it still works and we use it frequently
Afternoon Sun gleams in from the front windows
Spring Feature… thanks for sharing y’all
Friday morning friends 😊, a diverse group who gather together as they can on Friday mornings, to discuss business, and have a bit fun too.
Graduation 2022! Very proud of our son who has gained not only his high school diploma but his two year degree at WCC.
Spring Storm clouds
New Bern boats all aglow at night. Richard & I took a few days away to celebrate our anniversary in New Bern. What a beautiful town!
Cutie pie Joy enjoying life
August morning Fogs… did you keep count???
A photo collection of the fire at Smithey’s across the street. Very thankful for our amazing community of firefighters, police, who kept the fire/area under control.
September morning sunrise
Wet return for the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival in 2022
A very popular new t-shirt available at WCH this Fall. Thank y’all!
Amazing fall colors this year
The first annual Spooktacular was a tremendous success! So many people came out for this event this year. We hope to make it bigger and better next year!
November brings leaves 🍁 falling everywhere
Lighting up the night with Christmas lights… Light Up Downtown North Wilkesboro
Our view has dramatically changed with our neighbor gone, capturing this beautiful sunset after the time change in November
Mistletoe spotted in the height of a tree. My parents neighborhood has a ton of trees with mistletoe everywhere.
December… the festive month with Christmas trees and more!

As the book closes on 2022, I’m personally noting the ebb and flow of the year is often marked with highs and lows. The perspective and reflection of 2022 should be the focus on the blessings in life.

Wishing you and your family a blessed 2023. We await the new chapters in 2023 to see what blessings will mark the highlights of each of the 12 new chapters. Happy New Year to all!

Do you celebrate New Year’s with a traditional meal each year??? Pork chops, black eyed peas, cheese grits, cabbage and cornbread was on our menu for 2022 .

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December 21st, Winter Solstice… no snow today but the cold temperatures are coming by the end of this week! Brrr 🥶

Today marks the first day of the winter season. Soup and stew season has already begun at our house and is a regular feature in our weekly menu.

There is simply nothing better than a hot bowl of soup and a melted, gooey grilled cheese to take the winter chill off after a long day at the hardware store.

Christmas is almost here… a wonderful time of the year!

During the Christmas season, I love to curl up on the couch and enjoy my favorite Christmas classic movies. This past weekend I stumbled upon a recipe from one of my favorite vintage movies, It Happened on 5th Avenue(1947).

Thankful for TCM and my small collection of Christmas classics that I have on DVD

Richard & I have watched this movie countless number of times, but as our conversation took a turn about the stew featured in the movie, I decided to do a quick internet search to find out more about the intriguing dish. Slumgullion Stew, an Irish stew, mentioned in the 5th Avenue movie, was easy enough to find a few different variations of the recipe. I settled on my favorite and then decided to give it a try and see if it will make the cut on our menu board for our family favorites.

It looks like I’ll be adding Slumgullion Stew to our menu board favorites soon!

One of the central characters in the movie, Mike, enters the room and instantly smells the fragrance of Slumgullion Stew cooking in the kitchen, which transports him to a memory of a better time in his life. This stew scene will ultimately mark the beginning of change for him.

Upon further reflection, many of those old, classic black and white movies have the theme of transformation for the main character in the movie. An iconic example is, It’s a Wonderful Life(1946). The central actor, George Bailey is transformed into a more appreciative person by the end of the movie.

Many of our Christmas favorites we have on DVD

Regardless if you love those old movies or not, I’ve decided to share my version of Slumgullion Stew with y’all today. I believe the original intention with the recipe/movie version is to use what you have. I did conclude that one unique feature of the stew is black eyed peas and pasta from my research.

A full crockpot of Slumgullion

There are different versions of Slumgullion are out there when you check the internet, but I’m sharing my take on the original movie stew pictured on the big screen.

Recipe for Slumgullion Stew

⁃ 1 to 2 lbs. of stew beef (cooked)

I used my leftovers from earlier in week

⁃ 2 cans of black eyed peas

⁃ Cubed carrots (add as many as you like)

⁃ Potato chunks (I added approximately 3-4 red potatoes)

⁃ 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

⁃ 1 32 oz. Beef broth

⁃ 1 beef bullion cube with 1 cup water

⁃ Salt and pepper to taste

⁃ 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

⁃ 1 bay leaf

⁃ Pasta (macaroni noodles would be the traditional favorite)

⁃ Add all ingredients into a large crock pot for simmer on low for 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Add pasta hour before serving.

Slumgullion, holds an earthy flavor profile

Special note: The recipe I found online added cabbage, and chopped red peppers. I opted to leave them out. The consistency of my final stew was soup like, which is what I intended since I added the pasta into the recipe. For a thicker stew like consistency add a flour roux.

Lastly, sharing my Classic Christmas Movies Favorites… in no particular order

1. White Christmas (1954)

2. It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)

3. Going My Way (1944)

4. Shop Around the Corner (1940)

5. Bishop’s Wife (1948)

6. Holiday Inn (1942)

7. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

8. Remember the Night (1940)

9. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

10. Holiday Affair (1949)

11. The Thin Man (1934)

Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday season and hoping that you will enjoy the most wonderful time of the year whether it is spent trying new recipes, establishing new Christmas traditions, gathering with friends and family, or even watching a few new classic Christmas movies .

Mr. EE Eller, Chickens and Turkeys… Nothing but Clucking, Gobbling, and Plucking out the Truth

Who is Mr. Eller you may ask???

He is the gentleman who built the current building that houses our hardware store in 2022. Mr. Eller placed his business, as you may have guessed, in our current building on the corner of 10th Street and D Street in North Wilkesboro.

Wilkes County Hardware in November 2022

To our best known facts, the building dates back to 1905. Mr. EE Eller was a premier poultry & produce dealer in North Wilkesboro. EE Eller Produce Co. was one of the largest turkey, and chicken wholesalers. EE Eller was a major processing center for local farmers to bring turkeys/chickens into North Wilkesboro. Ironically, it was probably one of the first poultry processing plants in our town.

An artist rendering of Wilkes Hardware from several years ago

Farmers would literally herd their turkeys from down the mountains in Ashe, Watauga, and Alleghany Counties in order to collect the cash proceeds from their labor filled task.

Eller’s staff would 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, flocks of turkeys gobbling, wobbling with 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!!!

Signage like this one marked the path for local farmers to EE Eller’s Produce House. Thanks to Jerry Dameron for sharing this photo collection with me.

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 current 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!!!!

I have written about the history of our store before but, new facts have come to light! Let’s “de-feather” this poultry truth!

To those loyal readers of my blog, this will be new information for you. All the “plucky” truth, as we know it… A few months back, we were lucky to have a few family members of Mr. Eller to drop in for a quick visit. Up high on the wall held 4 pictures of what we had thought were the past 4 owners of the building, but it was ultimately revealed that the charcoal drawing on the far left was not Mr. EE Eller.

Many of y’all know this was the Wall of Fame inside our hardware store… check the wall the next time you shop with us, it maybe a “feather” shorter than before
Who really knows who this guy could be??? The truth is that we did not find any visible clues inside the frame or even on the back of this old charcoal drawing

Further reading and research has revealed that Mr. Eller moved from the corner of 10th and D Street building to Forester Avenue in 1941 to a larger location. Wilkes Hardware moved into the 10th Street location sometime later on, I haven’t been able to determine a definite date yet but we know it was sometime in the 1940’s.

It was fascinating to “pluck out” the facts about the origins of this historic building we currently reside in each day. As time allows, I’ll continue to research more about the history of Wilkes Hardware and even Mr. Eller. For now, I think we have “gobbled up” a few new fascinating facts about our historic past.

Hope I “beaked” your interest a bit in our history but just “winging it” and wishing y’all a very Happy Thanksgiving!