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.

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 😎

Hardware Lingo

Are you familiar with the term Lingo???? Lingo could be defined as special terms or vocabulary of a particular group, or field. Or simply Jargon.

How strong are your lingo language skills???? Are you proficient in many lingo languages???

Do you speak or have the capability to decipher social media lingo??? IG, DM, Messenger, blog, insights, algorithm, stories, FB Marketplace, Tik Tok… shall I go on???

Every profession has lingo or vocabulary that only those who work there become proficient in the lingo, case in point, IEP, PDP, 504, EC, AIG, Canvas, weebly, wiki… shall I continue???

School days graphic notes…

The teacher vocabulary was rich in lingo terms. Richard’s eyes used to roll back in his head when teacher talk began with another teaching professional, preferring a quick exit out of the conversation and he would just leave us to talk.

I’m sure that as you are reading this your mind is reviewing all the lingo terms you use in your profession. 🧐🧐🧐🧐

Hardware store work is no exception, hardware terminology/lingo seems to be as vast as our Midwest Fastener aisles… no kidding!!! 😂😂😂😂

A portion of our Midwest Fasteners

The terminology is immense and no specific area of the hardware store seems to be immune to the lingo… fasteners… grade 8, metric, carriage bolts, wood screws, finish nails,toggle bolts, washers, taps, nuts, & hex bolts. I must say the terminology seems to never end in this section…

Plumbing- pvc, cpvc, pex, faucet stems, flange bolts, flapper… don’t even get me started on pipe threading terms… 🙄

Lawn and Garden: Diatomaceous Earth, pre- emergents, male & female garden hose adapters, spade,D-handle shovels…

Needless to say, each area of our store is strong in hardware lingo language and it has been an amazing journey to learn this new hardware store language.

In order to communicate effectively with our customers, you must be able to fully interpret what their hardware store needs are when they are shopping inside your store.

Sometimes hardware lingo terms are used to fully describe the need. But not always is it clear what they are seeking, it might be an exploration mission to piece together a puzzle in order to find a solution. Regardless, our task is to use the language we are given and find a solution to the current problem at hand.

Interpret the lingo and find solutions… communication is key. If communication is not clear, or confusing then it is much harder to have a relationship with the customer.

Ultimately, that is why we are here doing business… to serve our community with our hardware store knowledge and skills. Our talents do not lie all in the same area, Richard, myself & Wayne’s skill base are all different.

We try to pair our customers each time they enter our doors with the right staff person that “fits” the current hardware store need.

Building relationships is a huge part of what we do each and everyday. Working to build that strong foundation of returning customers who can trust our knowledge (hardware lingo language included) and giving assistance in finding what they need.

Working together

Working with your spouse… could you do it everyday??? 🙃😉

5 years ago we just started… Richard and I launched ourselves into hardware store ownership.

I continued to work full time as a teacher until 2019. Then the transition of working together 24-7 began.

At times, this new venture into business ownership was uncertain, scary, and exciting all wrapped up into the same 5 gallon bucket of emotions.

We both have different and unique roles in what we do at Wilkes County Hardware. And… we are continuing to develop our best skills and talents that we can offer to YOU. We share responsibilities, & work through the difficult decisions together. Together… yes, we do work closely together, and we have survived & thrived.

Our goals are shared & our commitment is strong to serve our local community. I’m so glad y’all have been a great big part of our journey. If you are a new follower, Welcome!!!!

 As I look back, reflecting upon our WHY… In other words, WHY DO WE DO WHAT WE DO at Wilkes County Hardware???

The answer is simply YOU!!! Our customers are our driving force. We are so blessed to have formed many new friendships and made connections with our customers to help meet their needs. I’m also blessed to work with my spouse each and every day.

We always look forward to your visits into Wilkes County Hardware. Y’all have become our hardware family 💕and welcome new folks regularly into our midst.

The WCH shopping experience is unique in comparison to other hardware stores. We do our best to give one-on-one service to our customers so y’all can get what is needed in a timely fashion.

WCH is not the big box… just wander around to see the difference. Our historic exterior/interior will let you know immediately that you are stepping into a different shopping experience.

Thank you for being our WHY each and everyday. We are so glad to be there to help you with your hardware store needs. I bet you will find both us there… working together to serve our local community.