The Paper Bag Experience

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I can remember going into our local community grocery stores at Martin Cheek’s or Alexander’s Grocery and shopping for a quick “go to item” and coming back to the car with item in tow tucked inside a paper bag.

Easy tuck under your arm… carrying a paper bag

My memories of helping my mom carry in the groceries from the car, and not ONE of those bags was plastic y’all.

I maybe telling my age but, paper bags were the only option at the local grocery store. Over my lifetime, things shifted and plastic bags have become the standard.

Plastic bags are everywhere!

As we approach the beginnings of year SEVEN in the hardware business, I realized the other day that paper bags are ONE thing our customers have grown accustomed to with each purchase inside our historic, hardware walls. Yes, we hand stamp our name on each individual paper bag! Bag stamping is a routine part of what we do each week.

We hand stamp our paper bags… various sizes available

Processing and writing this blog post, I began to wonder… Are businesses that offer paper bags perceived by the consumer as a more “customer service friendly” small business???? Is the overall atmosphere somehow uniquely different from a business that only offers plastic bags at checkout????

Wilkes County Hardware, established long ago in our town center… finding a home on 10th & D Street after the legacy of EE Eller’s thriving business here in this building from 1905-1941.

Humor me please… Think about this for a minute… where do you currently shop where plastic bags are the norm???? Grocery stores, big box stores??? Can you think of other locations with plastic bags???

Just a question… hardware style

Reviewing my current own shopping habits, I recall several stores in our area use plastic over paper bags. Good versus bad, paper or plastic, that is not a bone of contention that I’m undertaking today in the blog post. But, I must admit, I do love a good paper bag! And I do frequent some small shops that offer paper bags over plastic, which is part of the reason why I love these shops! But I must admit, it’s more than the paper bag, it is simply the overall shopping experience.

Y’all, don’t you feel a bit special with a cute paper bag from your purchase? It’s like the shop owner has taken a bit of extra pride, and care into their own livelihood. And marketing that small,unique business with the paper bag. Paper bags are easy for gift giving, reusing, or even recycling.

Our selection of paper bags ranges from small to larger size with handles

Further into my reflection, I would like to dive into & explore a tad more into my thoughts about the “atmosphere” in a business with paper bags at checkout versus plastic. Here’s a story I would like to share with y’all today…

I needed a couple of baby gifts, and I wanted to give each one a special gift. I stopped into, A Baby Celebration in our local downtown area. The shop was packed full of all sorts of sweet baby stuff!

A Baby Celebration, a sweet little baby shop in Downtown North Wilkesboro

As I finished up my purchases at the baby store, I’m thinking in my mind, now I need to gift wrap these and get these gifts to the new soon to be parents. It was almost like the owner read my mind. Maybe she sensed my stress of gift wrapping…having to head out to find the perfect gift wrapping paper or gift bag to place these sweet gifts into. But, that wasn’t the case! The owner then quickly pointed up to the display wall and she asked me to select a gift bag for each gift. I was tickled pink, and it was included in my visit!!! Customer service at its best y’all!

My point is, shopping small businesses can often come with perks you may not often be aware of! Shopping at small businesses, not only can you find quality merchandise, amazing service, friendly atmosphere, gift wrapping, & yes, even paper bags!

Our classic brown paper bag

Which brings me back to the thought of what could customers infer from small businesses where paper bags are standard?

In my mind, my inference about small businesses that offer that simple, classic paper bag is often a way to keep customers coming back into your store. Customers tend to associate such memorable things with your business… that cute paper bag you carefully placed items into, the excellent customer service you provided, or even the amazing products offered inside your store.

A view inside our hardware store

Regardless of whether it is the paper bag, or other reasons, as a small business owner, you want your customers to return often & regularly.

So y’all might be wondering why did we choose paper bags over plastic? Here’s our answer:

We quickly decided against plastic and opted for paper, check out our reasons why…

1. Nostalgia, when y’all enter our building you have literally stepped back into time. The age of our building dates back to the early 1900’s. We are offering our customers such an experience. I’ll call it, The Paper Bag Experience, stepping back into a time where life was a bit simpler, friendly service, shopping in an “old school”hardware store with the classic brown paper bags as standard fare for packaging.

Wilkes County Hardware is a classic old hardware store with the wood stove, working freight elevator, ladder wall and much more!

2. Classic Sophistication, let’s face it, a sweet,,little paper bag is much cooler than a slinky plastic bag😂 right???

3. Social responsibility, Paper bags have a few advantages over plastic when it comes to sustainability. Paper bags are recyclable and biodegradable.

4. Marketing to our customers, our goal is to ensure that every customer feels special! What is more unique & special than a stamped paper bag with our logo information on it???

5. One cool impact of using paper bags in our hardware store, paper bags are often used for gift giving.

In closing, the psychology behind paper v. plastic may not be resolved in this blog post today, but we are thankful that our customers keep returning and continue to support our small business at Wilkes County Hardware.

Richard & I truly appreciate your patronage as we launch into year SEVEN of the hardware business. The Paper Bag Experience has been impactful inside our historic walls. Shopping at Wilkes County Hardware is a definitely a unique experience. Whether you come for nostalgia, love of hardware stores, or locally sourced goods, we can neatly tuck them into a classic brown paper bag as you leave the checkout.

As always, thanks for reading & sharing my blog. I really appreciate my followers and your kind words. Thanks 😊

Unlocking the Mystery… Keys

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All keys are not created equal.

Keys… all different types!

The variety of keys could boggle the mind if y’all really stopped to think about it (house keys of all shapes & sizes, master lock , mailbox, car, boat, RV, & ATV keys)the list goes on and on!

Sometimes it takes a few minutes to survey all the different key blanks in order to find the right one before placing into the key machine. Our selection is vast.. and we continue to try to grow this portion of our hardware business

At Wilkes County Hardware we are known for making keys that work. We stand behind our keys. If ever a key doesn’t work, we will gladly replace it with one that will!

The key desk is usually one of the busiest places inside our store

I would guess that not many places are left in our town locally where you can go inside and get a key made accurately in a matter of a few minutes. And I’m not talking about putting money/key into a machine… taking a chance on the luck of getting it absolutely perfect… we are talking about getting your key duplicated by an individual using a key cutting machine. Keys are what we do well. Below are a few examples of what we do everyday for our customers.

We make keys the old fashioned way… not simply put into a machine to duplicate, using a key cutting machine like this one, we can cut out an extra groove if necessary.

A house key is probably the easiest to duplicate. Using the original key is the best way to ensure the most accurate duplication.

Most folks would be surprised how many keys we make in a single month.

Getting car keys duplicated can be a more of a dubious task. Many of today’s car keys are more costly to copy due to their anti-theft/electronic features. Car keys come in many varieties…chip keys, sidewinder keys, & fob keys if lost, can be a costly replacement.

Here’s one of the tools we use in order to determine if a customer has a automotive chip key

At Wilkes County Hardware, we can replicate most automotive chip keys. The vehicle should be present for a replacement chip key, or really any car key duplicate. It makes it so much easier!

The key machine hums all day long

Wilkes County Hardware has been receiving several calls related to lock shop services… ie, Can you come out to my house to rekey my locks? OR I have locked my keys inside my car, can you come get them out… 😳OR can you make me a new key from the switch???? No, we simply duplicate keys at Wilkes County Hardware.

Each week we receive multiple phone calls at the hardware store requesting information for lock services. We only duplicate keys at Wilkes County Hardware and rekey locks.

For many years Wilkes Hardware & Wilkes Lock Service were synonymous, and owned by one person. That is no longer the case. These two businesses have been separated from each other for over 17 plus years.

The old lock service sign is still on the store front… we hate to remove vintage signage

We are common neighbors on 10th Street with two very different businesses. We gladly refer all lock shop questions to our neighbors next door.

As a simple reminder, Wilkes County Hardware offers basic key cutting services, chip keys, & rekeying locks in our store. We are very blessed with an amazing staff who do a fabulous job of keys!

Wayne has been a master key guy inside Wilkes County Hardware for many years. We are blessed to have him on our staff.

Thank you for supporting our local hardware store business for the last SEVEN years!!! We appreciate your support always!!!

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Wayne taking time to examine the old lock on our front door, he is a man of many talents

Shopping in 2022… Using QR Codes-Part 1

Have you ever used a QR Code??? Scanned a QR code from a restaurant menu , or shopped using a QR code??? Have you picked up one of your favorite magazines lately to find QR codes inside or even seen them on tv????

Wilkes County Hardware was featured in Foothills Digest. They routinely use QR Codes to keep their readership engaged and curious

I recently received a bill & an option to pay the bill was via scanning the QR code. The QR Code took me to a website to pay a bill. It was easy & convenient.

This seems to be a new way to shop in 2022. Which leads me to investigate /answer a few questions about QR Codes for you today.

What are QR Codes???

Better known as Quick Response Codes. These little scannable codes can hold a vast amount of information about new products. Users can engage with new unfamiliar products, gaining insights & instant information.

More products are coming into our store with QR Codes

When did they become important????

QR codes have been around for at least 10 plus years and are not new in the world of education… teachers have been building scavenger hunts & other types of lessons based on QR Code learning for the last several years.

Why now???

QR Code usage has grown leaps & bounds in the business world in the last few years, seeing an increase in use by 94-96 percent!!! Usage can be attributed to more shoppers having smart phones with the ability to read QR codes without using a separate app. During Covid, QR codes provided a contactless way for consumers to interact with new products, gain insights, or even watch video tutorials.

Ready Seal has great information online after using QR Code

QR Codes are easy to use. Just open the camera app, scan the code and a link pops up to take you to a website, or even watch a video !

QR Codes lead our customers to a link for useful information about an item they are researching or want to know more about

Who is using them???

Millennials & Gen Z

⁃ 22 percent of US population are Millennials ( born in years of 1981-1996)

⁃ Millennials are largest spending sector of the US population!

Millennial spending power equates to $2.5 Trillion, now let that sink in for a minute….

⁃ Millennial Generation was the first “connected” generation with the internet at their fingertips.

Online shopping is key for millennials… 42 % shop using phones, 91 % shop online

⁃ Convenience is priority for millennial customers as well as using product reviews. QR Codes hold a wealth of information right at your fingertips!

Find Wilkes County Hardware social media links all in one place!!!

⁃ Gen Z- those born after 1996, do not know a time before the internet and spend significant time online every day. Both millennials and Gen Z are willing to try new technologies in order to shop.

⁃ Gen Z- prefer brands or business should be innovative, & go “green “. They would love a business that is working on cutting edge technology & saving the planet 🌎 by wasting less resources in paper print media.

So what???

We had a minister several years ago and he included this phrase in his sermon every Sunday. The “So What” portion of his sermon was the crucial part of the sermon. The “so what” was the ultimate “take away” or words to remember from the sermon. So here it is, the “so what” of QR Codes.

1. QR Codes are everywhere and companies are encouraging people to use them. Smart phone usage as you shop or checking out is just becoming more mainstream.

Reminders of QR Codes and the ease of use is everywhere!!!

2. QR Codes hold a wealth of information at your fingertips.

3. The Millennial & Gen Z are using technology to shop online and in retail stores. Businesses need to meet consumers where they are in order to stay competitive.

4. Look 👀 for QR Codes at Wilkes County Hardware to help you learn more about new products. Scan & use these QR Codes or even ask us to help you navigate how to recognize a QR Code on your phone. We are here to help!!!

In our Lawn & Garden area you can find products with QR Codes

5. Stay posted on for another blog post just for you on QR Codes usage inside Wilkes County Hardware!!!

Mowing Grass

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The memories linger from the days of my youth, of the first signs of spring… Windows open, a freshly cut lawn, a light breeze blowing through the curtains, and the aroma of cut grass coming indoors. Spring had arrived!!!

I can remember spending hours on that red riding mower going round and round. Our yard was large and it took a good hour or so to finish everything when we mowed the lawn. I would take my place on the riding mower & dad was usually on the power tools, cleaning up the edges of the flower beds and working the push mower like a pro. We worked as a team to get the lawn looking good. Mom often worked in her flowers, while we were outside. Mom always had beautiful roses. I learned to love to be outside, and meet completion of a beautiful task, a well kept yard.

Today I would like to share a few tips I learned from my dad about mowing grass and keeping a nicely kept lawn. These may seem novel to you, but they are truly important for growing good grass.

1. Keep your equipment in good working order. Do the routine maintenance on your equipment & keep your blades sharp. Your lawnmower blades if dull, can create problems for you. Need new blades or blades sharpened??? We can do that!!!

We can sharpen your blade or you can purchase tools to do it yourself!!!
Need a good gas can to keep your mower powered up???

2. Never mow while the lawn is wet… patience is a virtue for a “Mowologist”

A good neighbor is one who doesn’t mow in the early morning hours… right???

3. Mulching your grass is good for your lawn, bagging grass takes those nutrients out of the yard.

4. Be aware of your blade settings, & don’t cut your grass too short. This may mean you cut your grass more frequently because you don’t want a situation where your grass gets too long and your mower bogs down with grass clippings, and then you have to rake the yard 😳

Just in case you need a new rake, we have those too 😉

5. Mix up your mowing patterns, it is good for grass growth.

6. Never mow grass into your flower beds!!! 😳😳😳Yep, I’ve watched people do this!!! Mow grass away from your flower beds and keep your flowers healthy & happy!!!

7. Your lawn is only as good as what you put into it. Curb appeal is a portion of your home value. If your curb appeal is amazing, that in turn, will help your overall home value. Homes with a well kept lawn & gardens could sell faster & for more money!!!

I don’t mow the lawn anymore, because of our work schedules…which puts us at work 6 days a week but, my dad still does his own lawn care. It is one of the things he truly enjoys doing AND he has one of the best looking yards in his neighborhood!!!! 🤩🤩🤩🤩

Whether you consider mowing as a chore or as a joyful gift to be immersed into the great outdoors, Wilkes County Hardware has invested in your lawn care needs. When y’all are ready to tackle that lawn this spring, we will be there to assist you whether you are novice “mowologist” or a veteran.

Speaking of being of novice… Have you been here before??? Going into a big box store and have serious questions that you need answers for and no one is around 😳, OR needing a product loaded into your car and no one is available 😬???If you have questions about your lawn, bug/pest control options for your lawn, our team should be able to assist you AND we load our customers purchases everyday!!!

Bagged goods can be quite heavy!!! We always load up our customers at Wilkes County Hardware.

Furthermore, did y’all realize that we have tools to make your yard work easier???? This is one area that we are trying to “grow” into. Many of these lawn care/mower maintenance products were not available at Wilkes County Hardware several years ago. Our customers were coming in asking for basic weed eating string, mower spark plugs, blades, etc and we now have them!!! Richard & I felt this was an area that we could definitely “grow”. Our “mowologists” regulars/customers know where these supplies are and they find them before gearing up to work in the yard.

Richard & I have have also expanded our lawn and garden product line over the last 6 years. We have lime, pre-emergents & post emergents weed control products for your lawn, and much more.

Just a small sampling of what we offer

Unsure, what a pre-emergent or post emergent products are??? A Pre- emergent is used to help prevent weed growth in your lawn… before they begin!!! Yes, that is definitely a win!!! Be very careful, you should not use a pre-emergent & grass seed at the same time😳. The pre-emergent will stop the growth of the grass seed as well as the weeds! Pick one to focus on for spring.

When is the best time to use a pre-emergent??? How do you know if it is warm enough??? Once the forsythia finishes blooming, pre-emergents can be used in your lawn.

Post emergent products for your lawn are used after the weeds have popped up into your lawn. Yes, Wilkes County Hardware has products that you can use safely in your lawn without killing the grass.

Let’s get growing & mowing this spring y’all!!!

A look back at 2021…

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It’s hard to believe that 2022 is on the horizon!!! Here’s a glimpse of some of the new products & ideas we have brought into our hometown hardware store inside Wilkes County Hardware in 2021.

Premixed paint arrived on our shelves in January of 2021!!!
People just can’t enough of these!!!
These appeared in early spring months and sold out quickly
Amazing new BBQ sauces… made in NC
We opened our new pop up shop at Carolina Treasures on Main in 2021!!!
Expanding our line of Zep Cleaning products. Great stuff y’all
Added Black Wonder into our gardening line in 2021. Made locally in NC.
In 2021, we added a few new products to keep your furniture looking great.
Located at the front counter… just in case
Keegan’s cutting boards have been a huge hit in 2021!!! Thanks again for supporting local 💕
New shirt in 2021 in remembrance of Harry & our iconic wood stove
Beautiful handmade baskets inside our store all year long!!! These sell out quickly y’all!
Keys… a staple item of what we do well each & every day 😊
Beautiful hanging baskets, locally grown sold out quickly for Mother’s Day
This stuff y’all!!! Another great locally sourced item added into our store lineup in 2021. Amazing!!!
Local pottery pieces now available in 2021!!! Unique finds & treasures
As always, y’all continue to shop local with us to find your favorite Meyers Clean Day scents
The Big Easy Rocker has been a great selling item in 2021
Thankful that so many of our customers use the flag drop off box in 2021.
These products are fantastic!!! North Carolina based company and repelling animals in a safe way!!!
Y’all needed these and we had them!!!
Great sellers in the summer of 2021
Y’all asked for more organic/earth friendly products in our lawn & garden line and we added several in 2021
Keep odor off your hands in the kitchen with this locally made soap
Kuduz jelly & sauces have been flying off the shelves!!! A must try!!
Keegan added pens 🖊 into his woodwork line
Fall y’all.. thus was a huge hit
New in 2021!
Now in stock!!!
Added new food products from NC based company as the holidays grew closer
Happy Frog candles… y’all couldn’t get enough of these during the holidays season… more to come in 2022!
Good for any meal!!!
Good for all metal cleaning… we got y’all covered
Local honey… with comb & without!!! Local granola & more!!!
Did you know that we are on Instagram, Facebook & now Tik Tok ???
Live music!!! I hope y’all didn’t miss it during the holidays season…
Stove pipe, wood stove products & gloves are essential as the cooler weather sets in
New in December of 2021!!!
You are the nuts & bolts of what we do each & every day. Thank you for your support in 2021 & moving into 2022. Happy New Year!!!
Happy New Year from our family to yours !