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.
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 stayed with Richard for the first year so that he could learn all aspects of the business, including the 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.
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.
This past week marks a year of the flooding of our hardware store, August 13, 2020. I just realized that I never shared any pictures or stories on my blog about that day.
The afternoon had proved to be uneventful. We had a sudden downpour of rain. It lasted for several minutes. What we didn’t realize was that the drains in the back parking lot couldn’t keep up with the tremendous amount of rain that was coming down.
Our neighbors at Wilkes Lock Service were gone on a service call, which was not unusual. Their building was locked up. As the water continued to rise, the back door was pushed open by the flowing water.
The water was rising quickly and was knee high inside the lock shop before we were able to get through the heavy metal door that separates our businesses. It was blocked with debris and we were not able to keep the water from flooding into our business.
Panic set in. Water was everywhere. What could be moved easily and salvage??? In a stroke of luck I grabbed Richard’s computer bag. He had dropped it earlier in the day and left it behind the checkout counter before the water hit hard in that area.
Our staff was few… Richard had left to run an errand. One quick phone call brought him back instantly. I’m very thankful for Luke… he came in from his day off and began dealing with the lock shop front door to release the rising water.
The next few hours are still a blur. Friends rallied to help us. We all worked late into the night pushing water outside our doors, running a buckets from the empty elevator shaft to the front door. Fans & dehumidifiers were set up strategically in order to efficiently dry our floors and everything else.
We opened our doors to our customers the next day. It wasn’t a normal day, but our customers were kind and gracious.
The storms of this past week brought a lot of anxiety about this past experience. But there are some things we don’t have control over… flooding, tornadoes, etc. It is a hard reality when it is your livelihood & business.
So in closing, I’ll share an update on progress… Usually during every major rain storm, the town street department swings by to check on the drains. Thankfully, we have been very blessed without any breakthrough water issues. And this past May, the town has completed a major project at our back door to help the flow of water.
I’m deeply humbled. Our friends rallied to help us in a dire situation. We receive phone calls from a very kind individual every time it rains for an extended period of time. Our customers drop by to check to see if our store is ok after a hard rain.
The flood of emotions are real… it is still close to our memory… every heavy rain storm we worry still …but the kindness of our community has been an amazing gift.
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.
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.
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.
9. FYI: Hands down the most requested item in 2020 & 2021 mason jars and canning lids!!!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.