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

Handcrafted with Keegan

Iconic pieces… what else can we say about Keegan’s woodworking????
Join us today in our spotlight story about how Wilkes County Hardware teamed up with Keegan…. if you missed the other blog posts in this series then make sure you check them out as well.
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One of my treasured Keegan bowls at home.

This story begins with a house… a young & newly married couple purchasing a home, just up the street from our hardware store. They often came into our store to make purchases as they were working on the new home DIY project list.

I knew Melanie from work, as a fabulous band teacher. We taught at the same school for a period of time. Conversation & laughter was always easy with these two people. They tackled many home projects. Over time the projects were completed, & they settled into their new home.

Then, Keegan decided to explore woodworking as a hobby in 2018. Keegan brought us a few samples of his workmanship. They were impressive.

Some of Keegan’s first pieces at Wilkes County Hardware

As Richard and Keegan talked one evening, he asked us if we would be interested in possibly adding a few of his pieces inside our store. Our answer was a quick YES!!! Handcrafted with Keegan has not slowed down since.

Keegan has been steadily adding new handmade items to his business. Keegan is always experimenting with new designs, new handmade product offerings. He is an amazing craftsman & a true friend. I’m always amazed at the talent & hard work that he continues to bring to his business.

Handcrafted cutting boards
Farmhouse Tables
So many bowls to choose from!!!

Keegan has a diverse skill set, and talented in many different areas. Not only is Keegan a DIYer, accomplished musician, cook, woodworker, well… the list is long😌. I believe the term, “Renaissance Man” would apply.

Thank you Keegan for always making us smile. We truly appreciate your support and come support Keegan by purchasing his products at Wilkes County Hardware.
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Keegan Watson with his handiwork


FYI: Make sure you check out the photos today. The first pic is from a Keegan bowl that he made last year from a piece of wood we found upstairs in our building. It is a special treasure for sure💕, they all are!!!

Strength

What a powerful word!!!! Do you consider yourself to be strong??? Where does “strength “ come from??? Is it internal??? External???

Strength can be defined as being physically strong or the capacity to withstand a great force or pressure.

Gandhi wisdom states that strength does not come out of the physical strength but from indomitable will.

Life in 2020 has tested the powers of strength for many people. Hardships of health, natural disasters, financial, and so many other areas have impacted folks in 2020.

My personal life chapter in 2020 brought unique experiences with loss. In the first 10 months of 2020, I have lost 3 family members, the most notable for me was the loss of my Granny. The family losses were compounded with the loss of 2 sweet pups- GiGi & Elvis. 😢😢😢😢

Granny loved to be outside, strawberry picking was always a special time spent together

Staffing changes has created a void in our lives as well. The loss of long time employees has brought distinctive sadness into our midst. Those personal losses have been extremely difficult to deal with adding in the flooding events from August/early September that made life more interesting.

Then add in financial challenges/supply chain issues of doing business during COVID… Honestly, the list could go on and on…

Store flooded after a significant downpour… the back parking lot drains were unable to direct water correctly and our neighbors beside us flooded. As a result, our store took on water as well from their flooding event😢

Reflecting back on this chapter thus far in 2020, I’m not sure quite how I survived so far. Obstacles have been overcome, & new ones continue to emerge daily… so how do we keep going???

What gives you strength in hard times??? Religion, quiet reflection- reading, nature walks, staying connected to friends & family. Pets??? Laughter??? Hopes & dreams of better days??? Is it a combination of all of these???

Beautiful weather to get outside to keep body strong and always good for my soul

Finding Strength in 2020 has been hard but I’m not giving up. My will is still strong. I draw strength from all of the areas I listed above… prayer, reflection, walks in nature, family support, laughter with friends, music, & dreams. So I guess you could say that I am drawing strength from many different areas.

Another area of strength for me has to be our customers & followers on social media platforms. You have given me strength to push on. Thank you for your kind words on our posts!!! Feedback, comments, likes, shares and those continued interactions on our Facebook & IG pages are much appreciated. The algorithms are powerful today and the more interaction we have on these platforms, the more present we can be on your personal feed to showcase new products, store updates, sales etc.

AND… When you arrive as a customer in our hardware store with familiar smiles😊, it brightens our day!!!! We love to see y’all shopping local. We need to keep the heart of the #wilcostrong movement going. We appreciate your continued support of local businesses in our community. The long term impact of shopping local will definitely be a stronger local economy.

In closing, finding strength& overcoming life’s obstacles in 2020 has been a ongoing challenge. Thank you for giving us strength to keep moving forward. I’ll be dreaming of better days ahead as I know many of y’all are too. So y’all Dream On!!!! 😉