Store Hours

When we purchased Wilkes County Hardware in 2015, the store hours were different from what we observe now. The hours were like they say “banker hours”. We were open everyday at 7:30am to catch the early birds and closed at 5:00pm on most days…the exception being Wednesday afternoon and Saturday. Both Wednesday and Saturday, the store always closed at 12:00pm. It was hard to believe that in 2015, that stores were closing at 12:00 in the middle of the workday, observing that old “banker” tradition.

What was the “bank hours tradition” that I am speaking of? Well, when I was growing up in North Wilkesboro as a young child, I can remember that banks always closed early on Wednesdays. It was just done that way here in the South. Why? You may ask, because the banks used that afternoon to do paperwork. Other people say it was to catch Southern farmers coming into town on Saturday because in the middle of the week, they were always too busy to be in the midst of downtown North Wilkesboro, NC. So the former owners of Wilkes County Hardware, carried on the tradition for years, keeping up those old bankers hours. Many local folks knew and anticipated our closing every Wednesday, and would make sure they came in the store before 12:00.

Richard kept the hours the same for a few months and he began to notice a significant trend. People were coming up to our doors and it appeared that shopping after 12:00 was necessary for lots of folks in town! Richard would often still be there working on paperwork and was seeing a trend that we needed to address quickly.  After discussion with me,  we formulated a plan on how to move forward. We would launch a massive social media campaign in order to let people know our new store hours for Wednesday afternoon. Richard also planned to update the store hours on the doors as our customers enter our historic building. The Wednesday “banker” hours are long gone now and seem to be just a memory. Occasionally, even now, we do have a few people to call the store and ask what time we close on Wednesdays, and they are pleasantly surprised when we say 5:00pm.

Saturdays was another one of those oddball 12:00 days for closing time for Wilkes County Hardware. The store was always busy in the late mornings and often the 12:00 push for customers to get in and out before closing…  well I’m just going to say it—- it was hard to close the store and not let our customers shop and do what they needed to do, and many Saturdays we did hold closing until our customers were finished with shopping- after 12:00pm. So Richard and I talked about this one too and we decided upon 2:00pm to close. That has been a good change for our store. Out of town customers can make it to us in plenty of time, shop with leisure, & ask questions about the history of our store. We did the same ads, social media launch with changing store hours as we did with the Wednesday hours and got the word out to our community. Our regular store customers can purchase what they need before they get too deep into a weekend project, seek advice, purchase that speciality nail or screw,  or even have pool water tested.

Richard and I are currently in discussion about  store hours for our future, extending shopping hours to 5:30 or 6:00. We posed a question to social media followers and fellow customers a few weeks ago to survey their interests in the extension of shopping hours to 5:30 or 6:00pm. I am just going to say our customers are absolutely awesome!!! They gave us great feedback. They said 5:30, not 6:00. Our feedback was positive & very honest. Many customers stated, “you guys need your family time too”.  Let me just tell you, our customers are super!!!! What an honor it is to work in such a fabulous community! I am anticipating that we will be making an announcement in a few weeks about our new updated store hours.

What I have found in the trend of store hours is flexibility is the upmost importance. Observing customers and how they are interacting with our store, looking for patterns for when they seem to be coming into to our store… early? late in day??? and of course the “old school” method we love to use at our store- just to simply ask our customers what they need. Happy Hardware Shopping Yall!!!!:)

Anniversary

We have been married now for more than 20 plus years… our journey has taken us down various paths along the way. A path of change we continue to make together 😊.

Who would have thought that we would be owners of a vintage, & historic hardware store! Those who knew us as young folks knew my husband’s path was destined to take him towards becoming a PGA golf professional. But it was not the path he desired in the long run.

Fast forward into 2018, we are happy being business owners navigating the process of learning the hardware business. It takes both of us working together as a team to make it happen! Owning a business is hard work. And I will be honest, it takes the whole of our family in order to keep it going. We get to celebrate together our successes, and reflect on our failures.

Our “other ” Anniversary will be approaching in September. This is the month we officially purchased WCH. Many things have changed within the walls of Wilkes County Hardware. We have added lots of new merchandise, fixtures, staff, etc… the list could continue on…. but our goal remains to be consistently helpful to our customers as they shop with us after all, we are an”old school hardware store”.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart!

Homegrown Tomatoes

I picked the first homegrown tomatoes from my grandparents tomato vines earlier this morning for them. My grandparents are 90 this year! Their garden is always sown with the seeds of life & love. The garden is actually mostly tomatoes, and a few other vegetables when you look at it, but it was truly a labor of love. My cousin actually planted most of the garden for them this year. Of course that makes the garden extra special to them.

Let’s talk about the mystique of a homegrown tomato. Granny has been anticipating the arrival of the first ripe tomato for the last week or so. Her plants have been loaded with with green tomatoes. Every time I visit them, we would go analyze those tomato plants and talk about how pretty they look, and wonder when the first one would ripen. I joked with Granny the other day and told her she needed to go on vacation so her tomatoes would ripen— one of those old Southern sayings. It is the mystique of the homegrown tomato… when will it ripen? How many will we have? Anticipating the taste of that first fresh tomato…

Well, it happened today, I think I actually picked about 5 red, ripe tomatoes! My grandparents were so excited about those first few tomatoes, as I was as well.

Gardening has always been a big part of my grandparents summers in the past years. Lots of great gardening advice has been taught to me by my grandparents-Passed down to all of us- kids, grandkids, & great grandchildren. We all cherish the gardening experience with the love, life and joy that our grandparents brought to the garden.

So what do you say is so great about a tomato? Oh, nothing is as good as a fresh tomato in a tossed salad. Lots of Southern folks love a good old tomato sandwich this time of year. I have never been a big fan of that one. BLT’s, fried green tomatoes, homemade tomato sauce, salsa… the list goes on and on…. ahh that must be the joy:)

Gardening tradition goes on at my house too. Growing tomatoes are on the top of my list to always have growing. Tomatoes ( tommy toes) are a bit of a snack for my son at our house this time of year. He will eat them off the vine- meaning they actually never make it into the house.

Elvis, our beagle basset dog- loves to eat tomatoes off the vine as well. I have moved my tomato plants this year to try to keep the tomato plants out of his view and out of his sight! Elvis literally eats them green or red… he doesn’t care!

Caring for our tomatoes requires watering, and sometimes pest control advice ( Wayne and Eddie are experts at Wilkes County Hardware for that ) . When I get a bit stumped, I seek them out to see how my gardening issue can be resolved. Obviously, I am not unique in that situation, many people have asked our store experts for help with gardening questions. Those guys are quite helpful and resourceful!

Often people come into Wilkes County Hardware to purchase tomato cages in order to help support the plants as they grow. I also put out several tomato cages around my grandparents tomato vines this spring to add that extra support they needed. What a difference it does make!

The winter of 2017 was the first year that Wilkes County Hardware sold tomato cages in the “off season”! Yes, we did— we had beautiful tomato cage Christmas trees out front of our hardware store on display and people wanted to make/purchase those. No mystery there, with a few zip ties and a tomato cage, and lights – the transformation was complete into a Christmas tree. It was a unique idea to share with our customers.

The mystique of a homegrown tomato might be truly a Southern experience- the anticipation of the harvest, waiting, predicting ripen time… I think those homegrown tomatoes always seem to appear around the arrival of Dog Days of Summer. Regardless, they are a great reminder to me of gardening with love, and the joy & anticipation of the harvest. Enjoy those delicious and beautiful homegrown tomatoes y’all!!!

Mason Jars

Tis the season for all things Mason— jars that is! Gardens are growing quickly with all of the rain that we have experienced here in Wilkes County over the last few weeks.

I always marveled at my grandparents garden— the soil was always seemingly better than my old, red clay dirt. So the question to Granny became-how did you do this, why is your garden so good? She just giggled and said,” potting soil and Black Kow worked into the soil makes a huge difference”.  I took a mental note that day and used this advice in my own herb/flower garden. It did make a difference!!! I was convinced.

Remarkably, one of the items that we began to sell pretty quickly once we bought Wilkes County Hardware was Black Kow and great potting soil. Our store had never sold anything like this before and the stuff was blowing off the shelves! It is now one of those staple items that we keep in stock, especially this time of the year. Yes, Mason Jars of all shapes and sizes are kept amongst the canning supplies at Wilkes County Hardware.  We can offer up assistance to those who need help with “bringing in the garden”.

Local gardens will start producing and the canning season will begin. I can remember my momma canning all sorts of goodies from the garden when I was growing up. Cucumbers (making pickles), green beans, tomatoes, beets, chow-chow, making sour-kraut, jams, jellies— the list was endless!!!! She and dad worked hard in the garden- weeding, harvesting, preparing to can, and then canning all the goodies.

I do have to admit when you grow up this way, gardening and canning, as a younger kid- I did not look forward to stringing beans to can, and helping in the hot kitchen while mom was canning. Now, I truly appreciate all those great experiences that I had as a kid. We always had plenty of those Mason Jars to fill them with our garden abundance.

Now, these jars have been passed to me to use. I am not one who has a big garden every year. Honestly, time keeps me from doing things like that now. I do have the love to grow things like my parents and grandparents do… flowers, herbs, and even a few tomato plants.

For a while these jars just sat on my garage shelf and I was unsure what I wanted to do with all of them. Now, I have a hard time finding one that is not in use.

What did I do with my Mason Jars? I have used them to store staple items in my pantry- dried beans, snacks, cereal, etc. My son can grab one of those clear Mason Jars  with his snack and carry it with him if he is watching tv- no extra bowls/containers to wash!!!!  Mason Jars are great for shopping too! I can open my pantry quickly and “see” how much of an item I have left before I head out to the grocery store. My refrigerator contains these Mason Jars- great for liquid items— like milk, juice, lemonade, etc. It may not be the same as “canning from the garden”, but my kitchen has that Southern feel even when you open up the cabinets, pantry , or refrigerator.

Mason jars are great for entertaining friends or family. When we eat on the back porch, I will often put foods within the jars to carry them outdoors. It is a great way to showcase a beautiful salad, soups, or even my favorite—ice cream!!!! The uses are endless!!!!

The last few times that I have taken a meal to family who needed a meal due to sickness, I have used Mason Jars in order to transport the food. People are pleasantly surprised with the different way to showcase the food.

Lastly, my most favorite way to use Mason Jars is to display beautiful flowers/herbs. I have several beautiful vases for flowers, and yet I gravitate towards the Mason Jar. To me nothing is so simple as Mason Jar full of flowers. It is true Southern beauty and grace on display in your home. Maybe it is the thought of my childhood and the great memories of those I love that makes it so special to me- a Mason Jar smiling with love.

Now every time that I walk by the Mason Jars in Wilkes County Hardware, I can smile with love and remembrance of a great garden abundance-love.

Morning Coffee

Ahhh… the smell of a fresh pot of coffee brewing in the morning is the best wake up call ever. The coffee beans are freshly ground, the aroma fills the kitchen.

The house is still quietly asleep, with the exception of our dogs. They are always eager to greet me in those quiet times of early morning. I grab one of my favorite pottery mugs (bought at a local shop down the street from our hardware store- Taupe) and then pour the first cup of freshly brewed coffee.

That first cup of coffee is part of my daily ritual, I must confess. One that brings time for me to reflect on the previous day, & to set goals for the new day. I guess I am not unique in that aspect, but I think I enjoy that first cup the most for many different reasons.

One of the best reasons why enjoy the first cup of coffee has to be the sweetness of my husband Richard. He makes the coffee every morning. It has become part of his routine after taking the dogs out early in the morning hours.

(Photo caption information: Rest in Elvis & Gigi we loved you dearly – these two pups were always up early morning to get day started and breakfast eaten… then it was 😴 nap time.)

(Photo caption information: Our sweet Bella… she lost complete eyesight after she was adopted into our family, such a blessing she is to all of us💕)

All I have to do is get up & pour the coffee, no effort involved on my part except to relax and enjoy it. Whether he realizes it or not, he has just added a small joy to my day by doing this little thing- making the coffee.

We do buy our fresh coffee beans at a local downtown coffee shop, Talia. Actually, we are regulars there. It is truly a great coffee experience. The owners & baristas make an effort to get to know you and what you like. So, yes, I love a great cup of coffee each and every morning. Talia has made that a little easier for me to cherish that first cup each day, just like my husband.

Well, lingering around the house is not something that usually happens in the midst of my life. Most days I’m off to school to teach, and out the door no later than 6:30am! Summer, brings a shift in schedule with more time to focus exclusively on the other job title I hold, co-owner of Wilkes County Hardware.

Upon arriving at Wilkes County Hardware, you can easily spot the coffee pot. It is currently stashed behind the wood stove. Richard and I are now in conversation about possibly moving it to a new location within the store, in order to create more floor space for merchandise. This would be a significant change for our staff and locals who frequent our store. Sometimes these decisions are an easy fix, and other times not so easy when routines are changed. But….

The morning coffee is brewed and ready for our first customers of the day at 7:30am. Of course the coffee is always free. That is just common Southern hospitality.

We have regular customers who even have their own cup/mug they keep stashed to use each day as they drink a cup of coffee with us and sit down for a quick visit before resuming their daily activities.

Coffee at the hardware store is a social event. The staff can gather together in the stillness of early morning hours before it gets too busy to do so and just enjoy a casual conversation, laughter, or even share a funny story.

But as the day progresses, others begin to wander in, picking up essentials they need for a job, or to complete a “to do” list at home. Many folks will find that morning coffee pot filled with freshly brewed coffee and just sit down for a few minutes to give themselves a moment of quiet reflection. Just like I have at home each morning 🙂