Our Family… Always First

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Total honesty post…

The picture I’m sharing with y’all today is from our trip back from Yadkinville last night. The sunset was breathtaking. Richard commented on its grandeur as we began our drive back from Mountain Valley Hospice House. I was able to capture only a small portion of the skies natural state. Richard & I have made this trip together regularly for the last week now. Spending a few moments each day with a very sick loved one, are minutes that I will treasure always. 💕

So I’m just getting it out there, these times are hard. Everyone is struggling somehow in life. Life is not “normal “ anymore. COVID 19 has changed how we live and work or not working. Changes have been coming fast in the last few months and some folks have been sick. People are ready to get things back to normal.

That being said, I am going to address the next phase of business for us at Wilkes County Hardware and what our current vision looks like.

After May 8th, WCH will still do curbside service only at this time. We will slowly proceed with caution. Our WCH staff is like our family. Many of you know, Wayne has been home waiting out the brunt of the COVID crisis and we miss him dearly🤗. Our staff has been great to work through such a unique & challenging time. We love & appreciate each and every staff member at WCH. As a business owner, we feel compelled to create a safe & healthy working environment for our staff, they are our family too.

Many folks have been gracious, kind and understanding of the new normal at WCH, curbside service only. Please know that we value each and everyone of you!!! We must take care of our family first, immediate family and our staff. So business will not be normal for us for a while longer. We appreciate your kindness and understanding as we do our best to help you with your hardware store needs.

Eventually our plans are to gradually reopen our doors, welcoming our customers & community back inside the rustic walls of Wilkes County Hardware. Social distancing and other criteria will be in place when we reopen based on the current CDC recommendations. Please stay posted for further updates and information.

Thank you

Richard & Angela Searcy

Expectations and Grace

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 an educator for 25 plus years, the education world spends a lot of time talking about expectations: specifically, setting high expectations of students 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😉!

Summer of 2019- A New Chapter in the hardware life…

Labor Day is over and this year the end of summer feels very different. I think you will be able to see as you read along today. It has been a life altering kinda summer for me and our business.

I officially retired as a teacher this summer. My “work” focus is now focusing on being a business owner in our community, which has opened up new avenues for creating change in our town and community.

Many people don’t fully understand why I would leave a state job early, so here is the deal—-It had become increasingly difficult to do both, teach & help with the business effectively, and be a Mom.

Honestly, Mom is my most important “job title” and I need to be there for the “big stuff.” This is the first year ever in his entire school career that I have the ability to pick him up/ drop him off at school. Of course I know it won’t be for long, because his drivers license is coming around the corner.

Before my retirement, I had struggled with my decision for quite sometime whether to continue to work and do both, but now I am at peace with my decision to leave my life’s work. In essence, I have just added a new passion to my life- hardware store life. Don’t get me wrong, I miss that look when students learn something new. I’m just turning the page on a new chapter…

Speaking of new chapters… Richard and I both turned 50 this year!!! A milestone birthday 🎂 So far 50 is great!!!!

So enough about all that personal stuff!!! Here is what we have been working on inside the store…

Below is a top 10 list of some of the wonderful things that has been going on inside our store:

1. Pool season has been in full swing and will be winding down soon for most pool owners in the next few weeks. Richard and Luke have kept a few neighborhood pools cleaned, & chemically safe for swimming. I can not tell y’all how much work and time this requires of these two!!!! Pool owners, I bet you understand. The fellas have worked every day to keep these pools clean 7 days a week!!! 😎

2. Richard and I spent some time at the Chicago Orgill Hardware Show this August looking at new products to offer up to our customers. Hardware shows are lots of fun and I may do a different post on that later.

3. This summer we also added several new locally made products to our store! These items have been received well by our customers and people keep coming back to purchase these items. We are very proud to offer these to our customers.

4. Some of our readers maybe aware that we made some staffing changes this summer. We are consistently heading in a positive direction to move into a new level sales, services, & great customer satisfaction for our community. Thank you for your patience and support as we all learn new skills😉

5. The first annual Harry’s Hotdogs was a huge success!!!! This was a absolutely amazing event to see people pouring into our store to eat a hotdog and remember Harry on his birthday. The funds raised went to North Wilkesboro Rotary Club- serving our local community

6. Wilkes County Hardware teamed up with Keegan Watson – local woodworking craftsman, during the Wilkes Art Gallery Art Walk Event this summer. It was great to see so many people in downtown North Wilkesboro

7. I’m still trying to figure out where my skill set fits best inside the store… I mostly work on merchandising, new product acquisitions, social media, and I have just started out learning some of the financial end of the business. My husband is invaluable in this business!!! He is a super busy guy😉.

8. Since we are a small hardware store, when new products arrive, we have to make “space” for new items. It is a challenge!!! We have been trying to find places for these new items and clearance items that are not moving. Inventory is always on our mind🧐 By the way , Eddie did a great job this summer moving some key products to new locations. It looks awesome!!!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

9. Our office space upstairs is coming along!!! We are so happy to have this quite space to work! We have more shelves and walls to paint, but our work areas are clearly defined👍🏻

10. FYI: we have a few new projects that we are seriously looking at, I have spent some serious time with these ideas this summer so stay posted for more details later this fall!!!

Here’s to the new chapter in the hardware life!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉Richard and I are working together as a team now to make hardware happen every day for our customers. Y’all, I am just gonna say, that is a very satisfying feeling!

Customer Service and a new tv…

Ok, I have a bit of a story to share, so this maybe a long one folks. A few weeks ago we decided to switch our tv service up, & in the process of learning about this new system we were looking at, the discovery was made that our tv HDMI ports were not working😩. A new tv was on the horizon for us to purchase sooner than later.

Richard checked prices online and then we decided to “store shop” and make a purchase. This was not supposed to take weeks!!!! Well, it has….

Our first big box store shopping experience was shocking. Only 5 of the TVs were on in the electronics section of the store. We asked about a specific model, could they turn it on- the response was “no”and a way far out tale of why they couldn’t turn them on… A manager complaint soon followed after we left the store.

After the first store experience, we decided to wait until after we returned from the Chicago Hardware Show before we made the tv purchase… to be continued

Big box store number 2 the service was lackadaisical. We asked about a specific tv, he went to see if they had it and returned and said “no we don’t have it” and pretty much walked away. 😳

Big Box Store 3 we never saw a sales person… tv we thought we might like was not in stock, left this store our options were quickly running out! 😩

Our final redemption of good customer service came at the last store we visited. Thank you Noah!!! He walked right up after we had looked around for a few minutes, asked us what we were looking for, price range, brand preferences… you name it, he covered it all! He was so helpful. Y’all, this young man got it right!!! The great customer service didn’t end there. Our tv was not carried by us to our car… no way- these folks placed inside the vehicle and did it with a smile. Amazing experience!!!!!

Before we arrived at the last store, we were dismayed at quality of service at every store we had been to, really this should not be a hard task!!! 😳

So what is the point? I’m not really sure why people are flocking to the box stores to get service that is substandard. We often hear from our customers that, “I can never get anyone to help me at …., I know you guys can help me”. At Wilkes County Hardware our customers are valued, we wish to meet their needs or try to find alternative solutions if we cannot help them out with a specific product.

Carry out to car is a great way help our customers with larger items that maybe heavy or bulky. We never want our customers to feel the way we felt as we shopped for a that new tv.

Our goal at Wilkes County Hardware is to follow the pattern of great customer service that Noah beautifully modeled: listen, ask questions, offer solutions, wait time for decision making, & follow through on purchase (carry out- if needed or requested) all in a polite manner.

Thank you for shopping local!!!! We appreciate your support 😊😉.,