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!!!! 😉

Lighthouses Stores

Today is National Lighthouse Day… I often go check my calendar in the early morning hours to see what type of holidays are on the horizon. I immediately thought, oh well, we live in the NC Mountains, no connections there, but then I began to think about the symbolism of a lighthouse.

Lighthouses are symbols of guidance offering the “light”or can be a safe haven for those who need it. Lighthouses could be a place of calm and refuge.

My thoughts then went to local businesses in 2020… So here are my questions for you today.

Where are your “lighthouse stores”?In other words, who are the stores you frequent the most, seeking advice, getting the essentials, where are the places where you feel welcome, & can you shop safely in your lighthouse store???

Are they local shops??? Big box stores??? Do you get the service you need from your go-to stores??? Are your lighthouse stores a “beacon in the darkness”, in other words, are your questions being answered after shopping there or do you leave more frustrated???

At Wilkes County Hardware, we hope that we are one of your lighthouse stores that you listed out today as you were thinking this over in your mind 🤔.

Over the last 5 years, we have developed a good list of services we offer to our customers that they are not able find in other places easily. We rekey locks so customers can sleep easier at night, find solutions to project dilemmas, & even answer phone calls about when it is a good time to plant, or can vegetables.

Our ultimate goal is to be there when you need us, “a beacon in the night”, providing answers/solutions and offering hospitality to all.

#Wilcostrong

What is Wilco…

We live in Wilkes County, NC. I guess you could say the “younger generation” have been calling our county, Wilco for several years. A fellow business owner, Cook’s Sporting Goods, has been able to market that effectively for the last few years. It has become quite trendy/fashionable to wear Wilco gear.

What is #Wilcostrong…

Simply put, our Wilkes County community pulling together and working together for a greater good during this COVID crisis.

Idea Time…

Back in March 2020, local restaurants had already been forced to do curbside only. The stress was already beginning to show and many local businesses were anxious about what was going to happen next. Our small town has taken several hits to our economy in the last several years. Major businesses have left, & corporate offices are gone. Food insecurity is a issue for more people than some people care to realize. I felt we needed to be working together to share our stories in order to help each other. Cook’s Sporting Goods had started to share out other small businesses Instagram stories each day… The Cook’s team and I had discussed potentially doing that to direct more business information flow to local businesses & locally owned restaurants. This sharing of information was to help our community to be more aware of current changes in business hours, new menus, new products, curbside services, etc. (By the way, this was all before the NC state executive order to shutdown).

Original WCH hardware store post…

Here is the direct context of the Facebook/Instagram post from March 18, 2020…

“So many businesses in our small town have been dramatically impacted by the current health crisis. We are open for business and several other small businesses are offering curbside service. Find our Instagram stories for local updates from other local businesses across our 2 towns. We are #wilcostrong!!! Other local businesses, we encourage you to use this hashtag to show support for our community. Simply add your business logo or storefront to this hashtag and share out to your Facebook or Instagram page and let’s work together in order to keep our local businesses functioning during this unprecedented event. Feel free to share other small businesses posts to share information out to a larger audience. We can do this together!!! Lastly, a BIG thank you to our followers and customers who continue to shop local!!! We couldn’t do this without you!!! 😊”

So that was it…

A simple post asking for fellow businesses to tag posts using a hashtag and to work together.

What happened next…

I received a text message from a friend once he saw the logo on the Cook’s Sporting Goods Facebook page with a Wilcostrong logo- he made a suggestion of a t-shirt using #wilcostrong as a 💡 idea. One quick phone call and the Cook’s team began to seriously work on this potential new idea…. Here you go, the birth of the t-shirt fundraiser project began…..

Hashtag time…

So we had the hashtag #wilcostrong and it was starting to trend among local businesses, folks were sharing each other’s posts via Instagram stories, helping to spread the word about local businesses. It makes me smile just a little bit wider each time I see another local business sharing what someone else is doing😊

T-shirt design…

#Wilcostrong was beginning to catch on, we had an idea and we wanted to capture the movement in a positive direction. The idea of t-shirt design was in the works. The team at Cook’s got busy working on a design with an old school pickup truck, loaded with goodies from shopping trips at local retailers without specifying names. It would be virtually impossible to name every small business in town. Cook’s team worked with us as equals- we helped to pick final design & color of the t-shirt. By the time the shirt was ready, to print, NC Business shutdown was in effect. Many of our neighbors in Downtown North Wilkesboro are currently closed and unable to do business as usual. 😢

Giving Back…

We were all in agreement that too many local folks had already been impacted by the NC state shutdown. So it was agreed by all involved that we should give proceeds to Samaritan’s Kitchen.

At least $5.00 or more of t-shirt sales ( per shirt) would be given back to Samaritan’s Kitchen. Samaritan’s Kitchen serves as a local food pantry for our community. Each week, volunteers help to organize and bag 700 “backpack” food bags for needy local students& their families each and every week!!! With the current Covid crisis, teachers, & counselors, or bus drivers are delivering those out to student families if they are unable to get to school each week!!! So, the need is great inside our community and constant.

Results are still coming in…

At the time this blog post was posted, 286 t-shirts have been sold so far!!!! One local business owner ordered t-shirts for their entire staff😊. Orders are continuously coming in each day. Absolutely amazing!!!! 💕

Brushy Mountain Apple Festival

If you are a local, you know the first Saturday in October is always the date set aside for the annual Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. This year will mark the 42nd year of festivities 🍎🍎🍎. It has become a bit a tradition for folks in these parts… either you flock to downtown North Wilkesboro and embrace the festival or you ignore the downtown area totally. There is not much in between. People either are ritual followers of Apple Festival or not. As a downtown merchant, we are in the first category. We love it! 🍎🍎🍎🍎

It is a unique way to experience the festival through the eyes of a downtown merchant. After purchasing the hardware store in 2015, we were told by our existing staff that they tended to close early on Apple Festival Day— they always worried about people asking to use the bathroom. We found out pretty quickly that it was not the case. In the past few years, only a handful a folks have ever asked to use our restroom. It was not a legitimate reason to close our doors to a very captive audience who are ready and willing to flood inside our doors to browse around and shop.

Many people who are Apple Festival 🍎goers return to our store to shop each year because they love being in our store. We love to see them each year. There are certain items they have come to expect to find in our store- Mrs. Hanes Cookies 🍪 for example…

It takes loads of preparation for Apple Festival. Usually at the August Hardware show, we always try to target some of our new product offerings to be in store by Apple Festival Weekend. We are well on track this year.

This year a few of our local artisans will be in store to talk to our customers as they are shopping. They get to see their products in store. Now our customers can put a face/name to a specific local artisan. I am hoping for a great showing for all!!!!

The morning of the Apple Festival 🍎 many craft vendors come inside our store to purchase last minute items they may need to finish up the setup process. That takes lots of planning on our end, & we have made a coordinated effort to stock essentials that might be needed- from the proper fire extinguishers, sharpies, duct tape, tarps, extension cords, etc.

Finally, that preparation is executed on the day of Festival… we arrive early to serve those vendors early- we set up our store beginning around 5:30am so we are ready to go, and we will work a long day- closing our doors as the festival breaks up and clean up begins.

Apple Festival is a big day, the crowds are usually big, and we love to see a full downtown. As a downtown merchant, it makes for a full heart ❤️ to see the streets packed with people and activity. Are you ready for the Apple Festival??? 🍎🍎🍎🍎

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 😊😉.,