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.
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 stayed with Richard for the first year so that he could learn all aspects of the business, including the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9. FYI: Hands down the most requested item in 2020 & 2021 mason jars and canning lids!!!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Social media…Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, blogs, Pinterest, LinkedIn, TikTok… we all probably use at least one or more forms of these almost everyday.
How much do you know about the algorithm???? The set of rules that organizes, filters, and sends content into your social media feed.
I can tell you I am still learning about how the algorithm works in Instagram and Facebook. When I started this journey five and half years ago, I didn’t even have a Facebook account.
As our business grew, the interest intensified for me to dabble into the social media world, get the word out about our business ownership and the services/products we provide to our community.
The more I used these social media sites, the more I wanted to know truly how all this works… It has been informative for me, so I thought it might be valuable for you as well.
Hopefully you will find this useful as you navigate your favorite social media pages. I know my actions have changed since I have learned more about how the algorithm works.
Please don’t take this as an exclusive piece of knowledge, this is only a small portion of what I have researched and learned.
In Instagram, once your content is posted, it will go to the people who are the MOST active on your Instagram feed first. Instagram sends it to these folks first… those who comment, engage regularly with your posts… (hit the heart ❤️ button, commenting etc.)Once these folks are active on the new post, and they react to it, comment or ❤️, the algorithm will push it out to a larger audience.
The better the “new” post does(❤️ or actively making comments) more people will get to see your post.
The same happens thing to your post if those key followers DO NOT react to your latest post. If they don’t ❤️ it, or comment, the post will be shown to fewer people.
The “average” lifespan” of an Instagram post is about 24 hours. 😳Whatever message you wish to convey, the span of time is short and fleeting. The same Facebook post does seem to have a longer life span if the post performance is good.
Facebook also seems to track your “favorites”…Those you interact with while on Facebook and you tend to see those posts more frequently.
Next, let’s talk about making comments on Instagram and a Facebook post, keeping the algorithm in mind.
The algorithm loves to see a comment that is more than 4 words, in essence a sentence.
When you type 4 or more words into a comment, It is a strong indication that you took the time to engage,( stop to read it) & gave a thoughtful response back.
Leaving a comment like a single ❤️ or even a 👍🏻 could be an indicator of a bot to the algorithm.
Posts that have thoughtful engagement do well, on both Instagram and Facebook.
So if you truly love a post, then take the time to send an appropriate reaction. Honestly, a well thought out response is what most people love.
We have truly been blessed with AMAZING followers!!!! Many do take the time to react to our posts and we appreciate it so very much.
Please continue to support your favorite small businesses. One small significant way in which you can do that is easy…hit that like/love button or comment on posts. The algorithm is looking for these type of activity from users.
In order to grow our account, we have to continue to get out there to a wider audience within our hardware community. So we need your help in order to continue to grow in an authentic & organic way. The most simple ways I have previously mentioned, but a “slam dunk” is to share the post.
In Facebook it is easy to do, hit the share icon and send it out to your own personal feed where more folks will see it.
Instagram works a little bit differently in order to share content that was posted. The paper airplane icon sends content to your story. This is a good way to share information with others.
Speaking of stories… Instagram Stories are huge!!!! Most Instagram followers view at least some IG stories each day. Stories are a quick way to view fun, quick bits of content.
Stories are an EXCELLENT way to engage with followers. Particularly, getting feedback on what followers love. The more feedback you can give your favorite businesses, the better they can serve you and your greater community.
So participate in polls and those slider stickers… send a message in DM if you love a photo from a story. All of these count as good engagement, which is absolutely amazing news for continued growth and spreading awareness of services/products that businesses are offering.
In closing, you as a follower, have a tremendous amount of influence on how your favorite businesses will grow. You can be passively active in your social media pages and small businesses can continue to fight the algorithm or you can assist them in continuing growth.
Our growth has been slow but steady over the last few years and we applaud your efforts and support.
Ultimately, social media is more than algorithms, hashtags, &followers. When you have the opportunity to connect with a group of people who have similar interests, it can be powerful.
Social media has created connections to friends and family all over the world.
Connections… part of our why we do what we do, helping our customers and followers within our community to find what they need in our hometown hardware store, no algorithm is necessary for that.