January

Featured

The trees are bare, no leaves are found. You can see a tree in its true natural form. Every limb is exposed… the natural beauty of the trees are everywhere. Do you see it???

In January and February most hardware retailers go through the “bare tree” season. The holiday rush is over, cold weather keeps folks inside, and all the shopping “fluff” is gone. People are conservative with funds after the holidays… I’m going to go back to my analogy of the tree, the “leaves are gone” = budgeting funds after holidays.

The hardware store season is in its natural state in January…people are seeking out DIY needs, making needed repairs to things that break😬, keys, furnace filters, in essence, completing just the basics. We often call it the slow season.

During the “bare tree season ” some people are often anxiously waiting for winter to end and spring to come on back in a hurry. Yes, as hardware retailers, we don’t enjoy the January economic slowdown but it does provide opportunities for us to work on our spaces- see our natural beauty 😉, launch new ideas to our customer base- adding new limbs to our tree, and begin to think about spring when the leaves start to fill back in. How was that for serious analogy tie in???

Regardless of how you view January, it is a time of endless opportunities to advance into your goals for 2020 or it can be a time to stay in past… things aren’t like they used to be when….

I guess it depends on which perspective you wish to take… the natural beauty of the season or all the leaves are gone, type of mindset.

We are ready to see y’all whenever you need us, we are “rooted” in our community and ready to help when you need us😉!

Snowpocalypse of 2018

“Snowpocalypse” is defined according to dictionary.com  as a major winter storm which shuts down a city or town and brings about some overreactions as a results of the impending storm.

We are coming up on the anniversary of this “Snowpocalyse” here in our hometown. It is still very fresh in our brains I must say even today as hardware retailers. What a huge event for our town, an early December snow, totaling 16-18 inches in our county- depending on where you live!!!! This was huge!!!! We rarely can total this much snowfall all winter long!!!!  So let’s set the stage a little bit and travel back in time to recall some of this “Snowpocalyse in December of 2018”.

Monday December 3rd arrived like any other Monday- it was truck day. The guys were unloading merchandise from our main vendor supplier and preparing for the week… I’m busy at school (this is before I retired)… there were some rumblings of a possible snow storm that could break later in week…. It was business as usual.

At dinner on Monday evening,  Richard reported that we were busy with a “flurry of activity ” ⛄️ and people seemed to be preparing for winter weather early. That is always a good sign as a retailer, you want your community to have what they need before a storm hits, not in the midst of a storm, and dealing with aftermath after the fact.

By Wednesday Richard and I were in deep conversation about several items:

  1. We were seriously running out of major items that we need in order to service our customers heating needs- we need to order more heaters, ice melt, lamp oil, shovels, the list was long… we decided to place an order with a company which we use that will ship quickly, and more merchandise would be in store by Friday morning, people were buying and planning for a big winter storm!

2. I was in constant communication with my brother in law in Charleston, SC concerning the weather. By the way, he works for the National Weather Service in Charleston, he does not forecast for our local area, but he can definitely tell us what could transpire with the weather in our area with definite certainty. I trust his skills as a professional. He is quite amazing as well as my sister, what can I say, I am very blessed with great family:)  We were getting regular updates from him as well as the local weather stations. It was coming together as a major storm. As a hardware retailer, storm prep is always on your mind, and how to balance your inventory needs vs demand of the consumer- (how much do I really need???)

3. Sales were heavy and people were definite snow prep mode!

4. If the storm hits on Saturday evening/Sunday like the projections, what would this do to our truck coming on Monday with all the other items we have ordered??? What would we do then if the truck could not get through our area???? We would be without essentials needed for an extended time????

5. “Snowpocalyse”is coming…..????

Thursday evening came and we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the much needed extra merchandise on Friday morning.

Friday Morning:

School was in session for me, & we discussed the potential snowfall. We looked at the forecast for our area, our class have completed a huge weather unit in 7th grade science earlier in the year. It was not unusual for us to discuss weather. Of course, the kids knew that I had been talking to my brother in law, and they seriously wanted the scoop on his thoughts too! Our discussions turned to potential final snowfall totals- the guesses ranged from 4 inches all the way up to 20 inches!!! We all laughed at those really high totals. These kiddos have never really seen that much snow at once in their lifetime. Never did I think that we would be close on the higher end of the potential totals!!!! (“Snowpocalyse” )?????

Richard on the other hand was extremely busy!!!! The local television station had called early in the morning and asked if they could come up for an interview. The tv crew arrived as the truckload of supplies were being unloaded. Literally, people were buying things as they were coming off the truck!!! The phone was ringing off the hook all day!!! It was so busy all day long!!! We were extremely grateful for the extra load of supplies but now the worry of not getting the truck on Monday was starting to set in. We were still needing a few key items. Richard completed the tv interview, they told him it would air later that night on the news. I was able to catch it during the 6:00pm newscast. He did an absolute fabulous job!!! I was so proud of him!!!!

We decided to go out to dinner that evening and the phone calls started coming in as we came back home…… Friends were calling Richard from other parts of the US- “hey, man I just saw you on the weather channel”. Evidently, a clip of his interview was picked up for national news!!! WOW!!!! We had friends who called from Las Vegas, & NY, who saw him on tv that evening.

Local weather forecasts predict at least a foot of ⛄️ snow!!!!

Saturday Morning:

Richard was at the store as usual, my routine was to finish my morning walk and then head into the store for the day. The storm was not going to set in until later in the day. On my morning walk, I suddenly received a call from Richard. He reported that a news clip of our store had just appeared on the Today Show! What on Earth!!!! We had made the national news for storm preparation for this upcoming “Snowpocalyse” !!!! AMAZING!!!  The day was full of talk and discussion of his appearance on the local/national news but, mostly folks were still winter storm prepping. Some folks thought it would amount to nothing, others were preparing for the “Snowpocalyse” .

By Sunday morning  December 9th, it was snowing like crazy. Richard and I were excited to see the snowfall. It had been several years since we had this much snow, and it was still coming down very fast. We went by to check on things at the hardware store around 10:00 am and I measured at least 14 inches and it was still snowing hard!!!! Yes, it was true, “Snowpocalyse”  had come to our hometown. It did take a few days for things to get back to normal. This is not normal amounts of snowfall for us here in Wilkes. There was so much snow, lots of it was dumped in Memorial Park parking lot so that the town could clear the streets. It took weeks for that “huge mountain of snow” to disappear!!!! It literally was a mountain of brown yucky snow!!!

By the way, our truck did roll through on that Monday, it was later than usual delivery time. We were extremely shocked and surprised that they were able to make it through, but very thankful. We survived the “”Snowpocalyse” , and learned that sometimes we think we have “nailed it” and are prepared for everything but then, things change- like the weather and we must adjust quickly and react to help those who need it.  This early December storm is still in our minds as Richard and I plan for weekly shipments/truck. Our discussions are always about being prepared and a having a healthy stock balance- it is truly hard to gauge… you can’t plan for a “Snowpocalyse”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk Turkey

Many local residents of Wilkes County probably do not realize the important connection of Thanksgiving and our historic building. So today it is time to talk some serious turkey history!  Our local newspaper, the Wilkes Journal Patriot, published a newspaper article several years ago about the famous turkey drives in Wilkes County.  I am basing some of my facts and information on that old news article and information from local oral history, that we love to tell to our customers and newcomers to our store. I hope you enjoy the “Turkey Tale” today.

EE Eller Produce Co.  was one of the largest turkey and chicken wholesalers, and a major processing center for local farmers to bring turkeys/chickens into North Wilkesboro. Ironically, it was the first poultry processing plants in our town, well before the days of Holly Farms, & of course later on Tyson. Mr. Eller placed his business, as you may have guessed, yep, in our current building on the corner of 10th Street and D Street in North Wilkesboro.

Farmers would literally herd their turkeys from down the mountains in Ashe, Watauga, & Alleghany Counties in order to process/sell their flock. Could you imagine the sight that it must have been??? All of the sudden the flock of turkeys appeared on the roads in Wilkes!!!! Men guiding them with corn along the way,  flock of turkeys gobbling, wings flying everywhere!!!! I would imagine that the sight of this was pretty common in the early 1900’s in rural Wilkes County. I bet the turkeys never suspected any “fowl play” on their journey.  The  old newspaper article did say that one of the largest turkey drives that ever was processed by Mr. Eller was 1, 500 turkeys in one drive!!!

Once a flock of turkeys arrived at EE Eller Produce, they were processed/ dressed for shipped via train. Our local train station was just down the street from our store location.  The train destinations were mostly in Northern states after leaving the North Wilkesboro station. According to local oral history, it is estimated that Mr. Eller processed at his height of business, 1 million chickens and turkeys!!!! Guess that was all “gravy” for him after that!!!!

So Thanksgiving has a new meaning for us as store owners. We are caretakers of not only our business, but caretakers of local Thanksgiving history. Our town is rich in local history and our building that we reside in today as a hardware store is a great part of that legacy. We are grateful, thankful and blessed. Thank you to all who continue to support our local business, you are giving life to our local history as well.

In closing, Wayne, one of our employees will tell you that every once in while he will see a lone feather coming flying out of the ceiling.  We all joke that it is the chicken ghost or the “poultrygiest”. I have never witnessed this, but he has many more years inside this building.  Ok, enough of the “turkey talk” and time to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

 

 

FYI: IF you have not read the post, “The Chicken Ghost” , check it out

Top 5 Questions People Ask…

Our store is rich in history and the building architecture is unique. As folks tend to say after walking around and looking up at our beams, “they just don’t build em like this anymore”. Our legacy begins to unfold with these questions that first timers or locals often seek the answers to learn more about our space. I hope you enjoy!!!!

  1. Do you use that wood stove?  YES!!! It is our main source of heat in the winter. We have locals who love to come inside our store just to warm by our wood stove, especially on a snowy day.  The stove was originally used as a coal stove. A few months back, we actually found a bag of coal upstairs from many years ago!!!!
  2. Is this the original Lowes Store? NO, Lowes Companies did begin near us and if you look out our back door you can see the where Lowes began.
  3. How old is this building? Has it always been a hardware store? Our building history dates back to the early 1900’s. The structure was rebuilt after a fire in the late 1800’s and the brick building that stands today, is the one we currently reside in as a hardware store. The first use of the our building was EE Eller Produce. Mr. Eller was a major poultry processor in our area. Turkeys and chickens were herding into the building, processed and then put on the railroad just down the street from us and sent away. It was estimated that the Eller could process 1 million in a year!!! Not too shabby for early 1900’s standards…. In the mid 1940’s the building was converted into a hardware store by Mr. Yates- the new owner. It has been a hardware store since the 1940’s
  4. Does that freight elevator still work? Absolutely!!! We use it everyday, the elevator is inspected each year by the state of NC and we have been told that it could be one of the oldest in Western NC.
  5. Is Wayne/Richard here? These two fellas are the heart and soul of our business, & many people seek these two out for advice. Wayne is the person that so many of our customers wish to have a key made by or a lock question answered by him. I told Wayne last week, that when he went to lunch each day that we just need to put up a sign to advertise that he was out for an hour and would be back at 12… he always has someone to drop by to see him while he is gone to lunch. We all laughed but it is very true!  He is well loved and appreciated.  Richard is the face of our business and many folks know him and trust his advice. We love these two dearly!!!!

“The Chicken Ghost”

The tale I am about to unravel goes back way in history to the beginnings of our store… well actually before it was a hardware store. The original building was constructed in the late 1800’s and was burned in a fire. The owners rebuilt and instead of a wooden structure, they replaced it with brick, our current building today.  In the early 1900’s, our building was known to all the Wilkes local folks as EE Eller Produce. Mr. Eller was a major poultry processing “plant” where local folks would bring in chickens, and turkeys for processing. The processed animals were loaded up on the Railroad tracks just down the street. It was a major operation that farmers routinely made their journey into North Wilkesboro. I have been told that over 1 million chickens and turkeys were processed in year!!!! Now that you have just a bit of historical background information about our building, our story can officially begin. Here we go…

A few years back during the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival we had a gentleman who was visiting with us in the hardware store and he began to tell us about his experiences inside our old, historic store…. this gentleman had spent some time with our neighbor next door and he stayed in his “man cave”. Our neighbor had let this man stay in his “man cave” for a few months until he could figure out where he wanted to go and what direction life would take him next. This gentleman said that he would often wake up around 2 am. He reported that he regularly heard at night chains dragging across the floor and sounds of chickens. He never could see or find anything unusual once he went to investigate. This man then continued with his story, by stating “now I know all of this is true because I am a reincarnated Buddhist, Catholic, priest, I can sense that things happened here”. Our conversation moved to other topics and we of course were super busy in the mix of Apple Festival Day and we all laughed about the story the man told us that day and continued on with our business.

Sometimes when the shopkeepers bell rings without an apparent reason, we always joke, “it must be the chicken ghost” going back to the gentleman’s story on Apple Festival. Lots of times we think it is the wind catching the door, elevation change of the door position, etc. We can usually explain it away….

Now, I”ll share this piece of information with you as well… we have had a few paranormal/ghost hunters to come into our store to ask if they could set up after hours. They thought it would be a great location and the paranormal activity was showing up on equipment. We have always declined the request of these folks.

The last aspect of our story goes back to the blog post that I did a few weeks ago entitled “Messy Monday”, it was one of those very busy days and our cash register/credit card machine were not working-via no internet plus we had lots of other factors playing into that day that made it a very long and hard day.  After supper, Richard went back to the store that night to try to make sense of the day, clean up somewhat, etc. He did not get back home until after 10:30 pm that night— here is what he told me the following day. “I was standing near the front cash register looking down at something and all of the sudden I heard a huge SLAM sound on the front doors, ironically, the shopkeeper bell never moved.” He then continued by saying that he looked up because he just knew someone was outside possibly walking a dog on the street or someone had run into the front door from the outside… it was dark of course but nothing had alarmed or signaled on the cameras at the front door. He could see no one or nothing alarming.  Could it be the “chicken ghost”???? I suspect it could be “fowl play”.   Happy Halloween to all!!!

 

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??? 🍎🍎🍎🍎

Hardware 101

Since my retirement as a teacher, my role has changed dramatically at the hardware store. I am continuing to learn more about the day to day business of hardware. It has been a great adventure of learning new things in the last few months. I have met many “new faces” of some of our regular customers that I did not normally get to see everyday. Here are some of my big take aways from the last few months of “Hardware 101”.

  1. Richard and I spoke with a new Orgill sales Rep. this week and he summed it up the best way, “Hardware is hard, honest work or it would be called “easyware” instead of hardware.” Some days are laborious, new stock to move around, truck days- stock replenishment… but when the work is done, it feels like a great accomplishment!
  2. The Midwest Fasteners display is like a huge “jigsaw puzzle”. For those of you who are not familiar with this company, it is a lot of bolts, screws, washers, etc of all shapes and sizes…. When a customer comes in the store to find that one single bolt to replace what they need- it like recreating a puzzle, it is magical once you find the right piece.
  3. Our staff- Wow!!! I am working with a team of guys who really do love what they do. I am so thankful that we all just work together to get things done,  & we can laugh together.
  4. My role as a business owner is evolving and changing as I continue to learn more and more about the business. Richard is extremely knowledgable about all components of the business. I am the “new entrepreneur” in the mix. I am doing “all things merchandising”with helpful input from the staff of course. New product acquisitions, local artisans contacts are continuous in our business and these folks are becoming our WCH family as well. We have been blessed to work with some fabulous local artisans!!!!  My role as the social media person has been ongoing since we purchased the business in 2015, and that is a daily task that I still enjoy.
  5. Our day to day customer base is amazing!!!!  I have met some great people who work hard everyday doing incredible work in all types of fields. We try to listen to what our customers need and wish to see in our store. New products are sometimes driven by customer demand and need for a product.
  6. We provide some amazing services to our community. Where else can you go in Wilkes to find all these services under one roof???? Pipe cut/threaded, glass cut, tool handle repair, kerosene heater wick replacement, knife/tool sharpening, pool water testing, window screen repair
  7. KEYS- what can I say… we do lots of keys for our customers, and they keep coming back because our keys work. Wayne does a fabulous job making our customers feel welcome at WCH.
  8. Our store layout has evolved over the last few years. We are still working on tweaking where products sell most effectively and what is convenient for our customers. We are continuing to look at product lines that are performing well and not so well.
  9. Locally sourced products are important to our customers. We sell local honey, bbq sauce, handmade soaps, knitted dishcloths, to name a few. The shop local attitude is strong amongst our customer base.
  10. And finally, “Love what you do, do what you love” is the most important thing to remember… and I am loving what I get to do:)