Expectations and Grace

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Expectations & Grace

Recently, I was watching an old episode of Happy Days. In this specific episode, Howard Cunningham came home from work (owning a hardware store) and I was stunned to remember that he wore a 3 piece suit to work everyday!!! I actually did a double take… thinking to myself, “is this for real???”

Richard was not home, and once he arrived, the first thing I hit him with was my immediate reflection from that past episode. He kinda chuckled and we both giggled at the absurd thought of Richard or I dressing the same way for a day of work at our Hardware store.

Our dress is always casual and we dress for the weather… hot or cold. Typical day of work could mean exposure to, “100 year old dust”, kerosene, pool chemicals, and of course our wood stove is active in the winter. It just wouldn’t be practical to wear a 3-piece suit. Our customers would not “expect” to see our staff dressed that way. Expectations…. here are some thoughts on this subject today….

Expecting a specific outcome usually leads to disappointment… who has had that experience?? All of us right??? Our minds are powerful objects which can “project expectations” upon people and events. Other times, we can even create our own heartbreak through our own expectations.

Regardless of the circumstances,

I have had “expectations” placed upon me as a woman working in our hardware store. As a full-time owner now, I have encountered this more times than I ever wished would happen.

Some folks who maybe first time customers, enter the store, then I welcome them, and they immediately look for a male employee to help them, with the “expectation” that I can not find what they need. Here are three typical outcomes of customer interactions in our store when these “projected expectations” are visible….

1. Customer pleasantly surprised to see that I can get what they requested.

2. Unsure of where potential item is located( as a side note- we have so many different types of products… I’m still learning what is actually inside this very old hardware store!!!!)so I may go ask where something is located, and I can then, go get what the customer needs. If the item is unavailable, we send our customer with ideas to try next… recommendations of other local spots to find that specific product .

3. On occasion, the request is such a specialized item that I do turn the customer over to another staff member- who has vast knowledge in a specific area to assist them.

Sometimes the reactions from the customer/ regardless of their gender, is overall pleasant interactions. The “expectation mold” is shattered like a key “unlocking a new mindset “.

So why is this a problem today??? Do we have these preconceived notions/expectations about how people should be based on what they do???? Or how they will react???

I will be perfectly honest, I’m a little stumped by “old mindsets” / expectations. Has giving/showing grace to others regardless of what is “expected from them” gone by the wayside???? Is this mindset rooted in past experiences???? Hmmm… I wonder how life would be so different if we all used this philosophy of showing grace in all circumstances???? So what is grace???

Grace is defined as an exhibition of kindness, mercy, favor disposition to benefit or serve another. The older I become, the more I think these two things should go together… expectations/grace.

Let’s develop this concept a little bit further, as a teacher for 25 plus years, the education world spends a lot of time talking about expectations: specifically, setting high expectations of students should equal more learning opportunities.

I always wanted my students to do their very best. As a teacher, “expectations”(standards for learning) of my students were consistent and high. I also tried to exhibit grace and kindness on days students were having an “off day”. But that did not mean the standards of learning were less. We were always working together to achieve that nice balance of expectations vs. grace.

So I am wondering, the balance of expectations vs. grace is this a life learning experience???? Are we up to the challenge????

January

The trees are bare, no leaves are found. You can see a tree in its true natural form. Every limb is exposed… the natural beauty of the trees are everywhere. Do you see it???

In January and February most hardware retailers go through the “bare tree” season. The holiday rush is over, cold weather keeps folks inside, and all the shopping “fluff” is gone. People are conservative with funds after the holidays… I’m going to go back to my analogy of the tree, the “leaves are gone” = budgeting funds after holidays.

The hardware store season is in its natural state in January…people are seeking out DIY needs, making needed repairs to things that break😬, keys, furnace filters, in essence, completing just the basics. We often call it the slow season.

During the “bare tree season ” some people are often anxiously waiting for winter to end and spring to come on back in a hurry. Yes, as hardware retailers, we don’t enjoy the January economic slowdown but it does provide opportunities for us to work on our spaces- see our natural beauty 😉, launch new ideas to our customer base- adding new limbs to our tree, and begin to think about spring when the leaves start to fill back in. How was that for serious analogy tie in???

Regardless of how you view January, it is a time of endless opportunities to advance into your goals for 2020 or it can be a time to stay in past… things aren’t like they used to be when….

I guess it depends on which perspective you wish to take… the natural beauty of the season or all the leaves are gone, type of mindset.

We are ready to see y’all whenever you need us, we are “rooted” in our community and ready to help when you need us😉!

Simplify

Here we are, another new year in progress! The social media world and the nightly news is full of talk of New Year Resolutions. In 2020, I am making absolutely NO resolutions, instead I am setting intentions for 2020.

So what does that actually mean- setting up an intention??? My mindset has shifted from setting a goal (resolution) of I want to do this- X event or thing by this date-Y and this is how I plan to do it…. Living with intention is different- you are an active participant in your decisions that you make, because your intentions are driven by your core values and beliefs. Words of Intention let you stay true to yourself at all times.

Let’s be honest here, sometimes resolutions do not always come to fruition for various reasons. The ‘busy life” we all lead can get in the way of resolution goals. Intentions can be accomplished with this new mindset and small progress can be made in any area in which you hope to accomplish, whether the intention is focused around your mind, body, or soul.  My word of Intention will be a gradual process in 2020 for me—-living life-messing up-learning from mistakes-forgiving yourself or others- perseverance towards my ultimate intention.

My intention for 2020 is SIMPLIFY.  I actually believe I began to work on this intention back in 2019, and it did not occur to me that I had begun to put into practice already until my reflection began a few weeks ago. SIMPLIFY can look very differently for each unique individual, that would all depend on your priorities for 2020.

Begin your word(s) of intention for 2020 with small tasks- like simplify your kitchen pantry- then move to another area of your home that could use more attention- cleaning out bathroom cabinets, closets, etc. SIMPLIFY can be applied not just in the “cleaning out/purge rituals”  of each January in your home. An intention can be applied to better health, help with monthly finances, career goals, personal relationships, or even spiritual growth.

My word of intention is to begin to work towards a more SIMPLIFIED life at home & work. It is not my goal to become a minimalist but to streamline what we have and what we do. I hope to keep you updated as the year progresses.

Our closet spaces at home and in some other key areas are already have met the SIMPLIFY intention with great success. Today, little progress was made on my intention- setbacks will happen.  I have all of 2020 and beyond!!!  I think it was Leonardo da Vinci that said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.  After all, he was a well known “Renaissance Man” of his time- he can’t be wrong- to SIMPLIFY 😉.

 

FYI: For more information on Intentions, how to begin the process of intentional living, please check out our boards that we have set up on Pinterest for our followers. There are lots of books, and resources out there for you to investigate. We also have Pinterest boards set up for your organizational/ cleaning needs. A wealth of resources is out there!!!

 

Snowpocalypse of 2018

“Snowpocalypse” is defined according to dictionary.com  as a major winter storm which shuts down a city or town and brings about some overreactions as a results of the impending storm.

We are coming up on the anniversary of this “Snowpocalyse” here in our hometown. It is still very fresh in our brains I must say even today as hardware retailers. What a huge event for our town, an early December snow, totaling 16-18 inches in our county- depending on where you live!!!! This was huge!!!! We rarely can total this much snowfall all winter long!!!!  So let’s set the stage a little bit and travel back in time to recall some of this “Snowpocalyse in December of 2018”.

Monday December 3rd arrived like any other Monday- it was truck day. The guys were unloading merchandise from our main vendor supplier and preparing for the week… I’m busy at school (this is before I retired)… there were some rumblings of a possible snow storm that could break later in week…. It was business as usual.

At dinner on Monday evening,  Richard reported that we were busy with a “flurry of activity ” ⛄️ and people seemed to be preparing for winter weather early. That is always a good sign as a retailer, you want your community to have what they need before a storm hits, not in the midst of a storm, and dealing with aftermath after the fact.

By Wednesday Richard and I were in deep conversation about several items:

  1. We were seriously running out of major items that we need in order to service our customers heating needs- we need to order more heaters, ice melt, lamp oil, shovels, the list was long… we decided to place an order with a company which we use that will ship quickly, and more merchandise would be in store by Friday morning, people were buying and planning for a big winter storm!

2. I was in constant communication with my brother in law in Charleston, SC concerning the weather. By the way, he works for the National Weather Service in Charleston, he does not forecast for our local area, but he can definitely tell us what could transpire with the weather in our area with definite certainty. I trust his skills as a professional. He is quite amazing as well as my sister, what can I say, I am very blessed with great family:)  We were getting regular updates from him as well as the local weather stations. It was coming together as a major storm. As a hardware retailer, storm prep is always on your mind, and how to balance your inventory needs vs demand of the consumer- (how much do I really need???)

3. Sales were heavy and people were definite snow prep mode!

4. If the storm hits on Saturday evening/Sunday like the projections, what would this do to our truck coming on Monday with all the other items we have ordered??? What would we do then if the truck could not get through our area???? We would be without essentials needed for an extended time????

5. “Snowpocalyse”is coming…..????

Thursday evening came and we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the much needed extra merchandise on Friday morning.

Friday Morning:

School was in session for me, & we discussed the potential snowfall. We looked at the forecast for our area, our class have completed a huge weather unit in 7th grade science earlier in the year. It was not unusual for us to discuss weather. Of course, the kids knew that I had been talking to my brother in law, and they seriously wanted the scoop on his thoughts too! Our discussions turned to potential final snowfall totals- the guesses ranged from 4 inches all the way up to 20 inches!!! We all laughed at those really high totals. These kiddos have never really seen that much snow at once in their lifetime. Never did I think that we would be close on the higher end of the potential totals!!!! (“Snowpocalyse” )?????

Richard on the other hand was extremely busy!!!! The local television station had called early in the morning and asked if they could come up for an interview. The tv crew arrived as the truckload of supplies were being unloaded. Literally, people were buying things as they were coming off the truck!!! The phone was ringing off the hook all day!!! It was so busy all day long!!! We were extremely grateful for the extra load of supplies but now the worry of not getting the truck on Monday was starting to set in. We were still needing a few key items. Richard completed the tv interview, they told him it would air later that night on the news. I was able to catch it during the 6:00pm newscast. He did an absolute fabulous job!!! I was so proud of him!!!!

We decided to go out to dinner that evening and the phone calls started coming in as we came back home…… Friends were calling Richard from other parts of the US- “hey, man I just saw you on the weather channel”. Evidently, a clip of his interview was picked up for national news!!! WOW!!!! We had friends who called from Las Vegas, & NY, who saw him on tv that evening.

Local weather forecasts predict at least a foot of ⛄️ snow!!!!

Saturday Morning:

Richard was at the store as usual, my routine was to finish my morning walk and then head into the store for the day. The storm was not going to set in until later in the day. On my morning walk, I suddenly received a call from Richard. He reported that a news clip of our store had just appeared on the Today Show! What on Earth!!!! We had made the national news for storm preparation for this upcoming “Snowpocalyse” !!!! AMAZING!!!  The day was full of talk and discussion of his appearance on the local/national news but, mostly folks were still winter storm prepping. Some folks thought it would amount to nothing, others were preparing for the “Snowpocalyse” .

By Sunday morning  December 9th, it was snowing like crazy. Richard and I were excited to see the snowfall. It had been several years since we had this much snow, and it was still coming down very fast. We went by to check on things at the hardware store around 10:00 am and I measured at least 14 inches and it was still snowing hard!!!! Yes, it was true, “Snowpocalyse”  had come to our hometown. It did take a few days for things to get back to normal. This is not normal amounts of snowfall for us here in Wilkes. There was so much snow, lots of it was dumped in Memorial Park parking lot so that the town could clear the streets. It took weeks for that “huge mountain of snow” to disappear!!!! It literally was a mountain of brown yucky snow!!!

By the way, our truck did roll through on that Monday, it was later than usual delivery time. We were extremely shocked and surprised that they were able to make it through, but very thankful. We survived the “”Snowpocalyse” , and learned that sometimes we think we have “nailed it” and are prepared for everything but then, things change- like the weather and we must adjust quickly and react to help those who need it.  This early December storm is still in our minds as Richard and I plan for weekly shipments/truck. Our discussions are always about being prepared and a having a healthy stock balance- it is truly hard to gauge… you can’t plan for a “Snowpocalyse”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk Turkey

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

Holiday Mishaps

I was driving down the road the other day and the song, “Holiday Road,  began to play. That song brings back the memories and the many laughs of the Clark Griswold movies.  One of our family favorites, has to be National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  I think that we can all recite lines from this movie, it is a classic. I began to think about all of the misadventures the Griswold family encountered throughout the movie and I giggled in the car as the song was finishing up.

My sequence of thinking then moved onto our own unique holiday mishaps and adventures. I guess we all have them, maybe not to the extreme as the movie played out. I hope that your upcoming holiday season is uneventful and blessed. Enjoy our holiday mishaps and adventures!!!! These are some of my favorite and most memorable….

Thanksgiving: In 2018, we had planned a trip to my parents for Thanksgiving. Everyone was excited about going- including my grandparents… my bags were all packed up and ready to go… as I went to bed that night, I experienced the worst pain I ever had in my entire life! It was a kidney stone:(    To say the least, the trip didn’t happen the next day. I ended up not being able to pass the kidney stone, it was lodged in my right kidney- it had to be surgically removed after the holiday passed.

Holiday turkey leftovers are always a challenge. What do you do with all those leftovers in your refrigerator in order to make them “fresh” again for your family? My mom had asked me to make a turkey casserole with our leftover turkey a few years back. I had whipped it out quickly using the same formula as the chicken casserole that our family loves. I placed the turkey casserole into a Pyrex glass baking dish. Boom, it would be done in time with all of the other leftover veggies, etc. We were all laughing, talking, working away in mom’s kitchen. I pulled the casserole out of the oven and began to let it cool before we ate. All of the sudden, the entire dish popped, glass was flying all over the kitchen. Lucky for all of us, no one was hurt. No turkey casserole for dinner- I think we all ate a ham sandwich.

Christmas:

Richard and I were so excited the first Christmas that we were homeowners. We had a beautiful older home with high ceilings. This would be the year that we were going to a choose and cut Christmas tree farm to purchase our tree. Normally, we just purchased a tree from a local spot in town in years past. The Christmas Tree Farm had simply beautiful trees!!! We selected a tree that believed to be around 10 feet high. Once the tree arrived at our house, the realization had begun to set in… our tree was 12/13 feet tall. How were we going to get it in the house??? We knew it would fit inside our home, but getting it upright and inside???? Richard ended up bracing the top limbs for safety reasons and securing it with fishing line, so it would not tip over.

As a young married couple, we had lights, ornaments, but not nearly enough!!! We hit Kmart hard- yep, we are that old folks… we had a Kmart. I still have some of those ornaments that we purchased almost 25 Christmases ago from Kmart in order to fill up our first gigantic Christmas tree. I smile each year those ornaments come out of the box and think of that first Christmas.  All of our beautiful Christmas cards went on our giant tree that year in order to fill in the gaps. Clark Griswold would have loved it, especially when Richard used the chainsaw to get it out of the house!!!!

Mom always wrapped our presents and sometimes did not put a name on them so that we ( my sister and myself) would not sneak into them before Christmas Day. She knew who was supposed to get which present. Isn’t that such a mom thing to know!!! Well, one year we went to our grandparents house for our yearly Christmas Eve dinner. Mom had the presents all ready for each person that night. When Granny opened up her gift, she opened up a pair of mens pants, those were supposed to be for my dad to open up on Christmas Day. Mom was a bit sheepish about the whole thing of course, but she had two snoopy little girls who loved to have hints of what was to come for Christmas Day.  So, Christmas morning came, Dad opened up Granny’s present and they did a switch around gift…. Later on that day when dad was getting rid of boxes and taking them out to the wood stove,  my sister was searching for one of her gifts, but it was already too late… it was in the stove… of course, it was replaced, but mishaps happen.

Happy Holidays to all!

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Questions People Ask…

Our store is rich in history and the building architecture is unique. As folks tend to say after walking around and looking up at our beams, “they just don’t build em like this anymore”. Our legacy begins to unfold with these questions that first timers or locals often seek the answers to learn more about our space. I hope you enjoy!!!!

  1. Do you use that wood stove?  YES!!! It is our main source of heat in the winter. We have locals who love to come inside our store just to warm by our wood stove, especially on a snowy day.  The stove was originally used as a coal stove. A few months back, we actually found a bag of coal upstairs from many years ago!!!!
  2. Is this the original Lowes Store? NO, Lowes Companies did begin near us and if you look out our back door you can see the where Lowes began.
  3. How old is this building? Has it always been a hardware store? Our building history dates back to the early 1900’s. The structure was rebuilt after a fire in the late 1800’s and the brick building that stands today, is the one we currently reside in as a hardware store. The first use of the our building was EE Eller Produce. Mr. Eller was a major poultry processor in our area. Turkeys and chickens were herding into the building, processed and then put on the railroad just down the street from us and sent away. It was estimated that the Eller could process 1 million in a year!!! Not too shabby for early 1900’s standards…. In the mid 1940’s the building was converted into a hardware store by Mr. Yates- the new owner. It has been a hardware store since the 1940’s
  4. Does that freight elevator still work? Absolutely!!! We use it everyday, the elevator is inspected each year by the state of NC and we have been told that it could be one of the oldest in Western NC.
  5. Is Wayne/Richard here? These two fellas are the heart and soul of our business, & many people seek these two out for advice. Wayne is the person that so many of our customers wish to have a key made by or a lock question answered by him. I told Wayne last week, that when he went to lunch each day that we just need to put up a sign to advertise that he was out for an hour and would be back at 12… he always has someone to drop by to see him while he is gone to lunch. We all laughed but it is very true!  He is well loved and appreciated.  Richard is the face of our business and many folks know him and trust his advice. We love these two dearly!!!!