Nailing Things Down

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.

Logistics

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

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

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 😎

Working the Algorithm

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.