Summer of 2019- A New Chapter in the hardware life…

Labor Day is over and this year the end of summer feels very different. I think you will be able to see as you read along today. It has been a life altering kinda summer for me and our business.

I officially retired as a teacher this summer. My “work” focus is now focusing on being a business owner in our community, which has opened up new avenues for creating change in our town and community.

Many people don’t fully understand why I would leave a state job early, so here is the deal—-It had become increasingly difficult to do both, teach & help with the business effectively, and be a Mom.

Honestly, Mom is my most important “job title” and I need to be there for the “big stuff.” This is the first year ever in his entire school career that I have the ability to pick him up/ drop him off at school. Of course I know it won’t be for long, because his drivers license is coming around the corner.

Before my retirement, I had struggled with my decision for quite sometime whether to continue to work and do both, but now I am at peace with my decision to leave my life’s work. In essence, I have just added a new passion to my life- hardware store life. Don’t get me wrong, I miss that look when students learn something new. I’m just turning the page on a new chapter…

Speaking of new chapters… Richard and I both turned 50 this year!!! A milestone birthday 🎂 So far 50 is great!!!!

So enough about all that personal stuff!!! Here is what we have been working on inside the store…

Below is a top 10 list of some of the wonderful things that has been going on inside our store:

1. Pool season has been in full swing and will be winding down soon for most pool owners in the next few weeks. Richard and Luke have kept a few neighborhood pools cleaned, & chemically safe for swimming. I can not tell y’all how much work and time this requires of these two!!!! Pool owners, I bet you understand. The fellas have worked every day to keep these pools clean 7 days a week!!! 😎

2. Richard and I spent some time at the Chicago Orgill Hardware Show this August looking at new products to offer up to our customers. Hardware shows are lots of fun and I may do a different post on that later.

3. This summer we also added several new locally made products to our store! These items have been received well by our customers and people keep coming back to purchase these items. We are very proud to offer these to our customers.

4. Some of our readers maybe aware that we made some staffing changes this summer. We are consistently heading in a positive direction to move into a new level sales, services, & great customer satisfaction for our community. Thank you for your patience and support as we all learn new skills😉

5. The first annual Harry’s Hotdogs was a huge success!!!! This was a absolutely amazing event to see people pouring into our store to eat a hotdog and remember Harry on his birthday. The funds raised went to North Wilkesboro Rotary Club- serving our local community

6. Wilkes County Hardware teamed up with Keegan Watson – local woodworking craftsman, during the Wilkes Art Gallery Art Walk Event this summer. It was great to see so many people in downtown North Wilkesboro

7. I’m still trying to figure out where my skill set fits best inside the store… I mostly work on merchandising, new product acquisitions, social media, and I have just started out learning some of the financial end of the business. My husband is invaluable in this business!!! He is a super busy guy😉.

8. Since we are a small hardware store, when new products arrive, we have to make “space” for new items. It is a challenge!!! We have been trying to find places for these new items and clearance items that are not moving. Inventory is always on our mind🧐 By the way , Eddie did a great job this summer moving some key products to new locations. It looks awesome!!!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

9. Our office space upstairs is coming along!!! We are so happy to have this quite space to work! We have more shelves and walls to paint, but our work areas are clearly defined👍🏻

10. FYI: we have a few new projects that we are seriously looking at, I have spent some serious time with these ideas this summer so stay posted for more details later this fall!!!

Here’s to the new chapter in the hardware life!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉Richard and I are working together as a team now to make hardware happen every day for our customers. Y’all, I am just gonna say, that is a very satisfying feeling!

Supper vs. Dinner

Sometimes in conversation as I remember talking to my Granny at the end of the day, I would ask her what they both had for dinner. As she began to talk about her meal, I soon realized that she was referring to her mid-day meal, not her evening meal. My vocabulary was not the same as hers. I quickly learned that her view of supper/dinner was different from mine. Does it matter? Well, I guess it is all about perspective.

A major NC magazine in our state just recently published an article about Sunday Suppers. It was well done. I’m not going to rehash the intent of that article. But, it did bring back up all those supper/dinner conversations that I had with my granny to my mind when I read the article.

So upon reflection, I began to ponder my usage of “dinner”. I use the term “dinner” all the time to gather my family to the table, but the reality is that we really are seated for “supper” instead.

Why supper??? The word supper is less formal. Dinner can be a full fledged event with fancy dinner napkins, china, etc. But, when we gather at home, it is not a formal affair. Our family is blessed to have passed down to us, the antique farm table that was in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. The table is definitely not formal by any means, and it is the only table around which we gather to eat. At this farm table we engage in the conversations about the day, hold discussions about local events/news, and let the puns roll. (Our form of making our son roll his eyes 👀 at us.). Supper at our house is a time to simply gather, eat together & unwind from the day.

This was modeled well in my family as a young child growing up. All four of us always ate together at the table in the kitchen. As they say, “old habits die hard”. Meals gathered as our family unit or shared with friends are a strong part of my memories of home.

Now in present day, the weekends are probably the most relaxing suppers we get to have as a family unit. Saturday evening supper is probably one of my favorite times. This tends to be the meal when we can relax, kick back at the end of the day. Saturday supper tends to be one of our Traeger nights- smoking a good piece of meat, or grilling up fish, or whatever is on sale at the grocery store! Do you guys do that too???

Saturday supper doesn’t have to be all fancy, high dollar meals that breaks your budget 💵. Sometimes supper is quite simple at our house–homemade chili beans, or biscuits in a Lodge skillet & country ham, maybe even soup and Traeger grilled cheese sandwich, or lastly, a crockpot meal that we all love.

So I guess when I call my family to say, “dinner is ready”, I really mean supper because that equates to family time. 😊

Happy Supper Saturday y’all !!!

S’agapo

These are the Greek words for “I love you”- S’agapo…

💝February might be the season of love, but to those people who model & live this way each and every day, it is beautiful to witness.

Richard and I were honored with the presence of one such person, Harry Galifanakis. He exemplified these words… S’agapo.

Harry loved life, each and every day. Harry was a dear husband to his sweet wife, a great family man, and cared deeply for his surrounding community. We all miss his love.

Harry spent a lot of time with us at Wilkes County Hardware. He was our resident advisor, & he greeted all of our customers with a smile. Harry would sit and talk with those who would take time to sit down with him while he rocked in his chair. He loved conversations, people, and in general terms, living a simple life.

Harry gave us love each and every day. I know in my heart in the first year of ownership of Wilkes County Hardware, he gave Richard confidence to keep going, pressing on to do what needed to be done, changing the layout of of the store, & adjusting to running a small business. Harry was one of our biggest supporters and we are eternally grateful for his love and friendship.

In the second and third years of ownership, he became an honorary family member. He was never far from our minds or hearts. Richard & I worried if he was sick, wished him safe travels while off visiting family, and couldn’t wait to hear his stories upon his joyous return. Harry always called us if we were on a trip, away from the store to just to say “hello”& to make sure we were happy, eating well and of course, having fun! 😎

Throughout the last few years, Harry shared many stories about his Greek heritage, & the rich love he had his family… it just exuded from him. He loved his family, nothing made him more happy than his family. Harry always loved to throw out Greek phrases as he spoke about his family.

Over time, Harry began to even teach Richard some of those phrases… the first one he taught him was S’agapo. Harry said to him, “this is what you tell your wife everyday”. Harry loved to see Richard try his new Greek speaking skills out on me as I entered the store. It was sweet and precious on many levels.

We all spent many days laughing with Harry and please know that your loving kindness and friendship will always be central in our hearts.

S’agapo Harry❤️❤️❤️❤️

15

Our lives changed dramatically 15 years ago. Our son came into the world 🌎 and Richard & I were transformed into parents overnight. We haven’t looked back ever since, his presence in our lives has been our greatest blessing.

As he begins another year, I am amazed to see how much change has occurred in the last few years… I am also drawn to reflect on how on earth did we get here??? Seriously, time does fly by!!!

The physical changes are ongoing. This young man is now his mom’s height… and truth be told, he will probably surpass me and head towards 6 feet sooner than later 😳. Those of you with teenage boys know how much food they inhale.., and of course we have gone through at least three buying sprees of clothing so far this year— in order to keep up with the growth process.

I can still remember the sweet little guy who sat on the bench out front of the hardware store and smiled for a first photo. Fast forward to Summer 2018, he made keys 🔑 with Wayne, helped customers in the store, and even helped his dad get some of the local neighborhood pools open for the season.

I am sure that more changes will come for our big 15 year old in the next year, and we will continue to face them as a family. We love you dearly big guy!!! 💕

Family is central to our everything isn’t it? Come to think of it… This is very similar to how we approach our business ownership, we make decisions as co-owners, working together for a common goal- serving our local community. The essence of #thehardwarelife 😉

Happy Birthday!!! 🎂

Mason Jars

Tis the season for all things Mason— jars that is! Gardens are growing quickly with all of the rain that we have experienced here in Wilkes County over the last few weeks.

I always marveled at my grandparents garden— the soil was always seemingly better than my old, red clay dirt. So the question to Granny became-how did you do this, why is your garden so good? She just giggled and said,” potting soil and Black Kow worked into the soil makes a huge difference”.  I took a mental note that day and used this advice in my own herb/flower garden. It did make a difference!!! I was convinced.

Remarkably, one of the items that we began to sell pretty quickly once we bought Wilkes County Hardware was Black Kow and great potting soil. Our store had never sold anything like this before and the stuff was blowing off the shelves! It is now one of those staple items that we keep in stock, especially this time of the year. Yes, Mason Jars of all shapes and sizes are kept amongst the canning supplies at Wilkes County Hardware.  We can offer up assistance to those who need help with “bringing in the garden”.

Local gardens will start producing and the canning season will begin. I can remember my momma canning all sorts of goodies from the garden when I was growing up. Cucumbers (making pickles), green beans, tomatoes, beets, chow-chow, making sour-kraut, jams, jellies— the list was endless!!!! She and dad worked hard in the garden- weeding, harvesting, preparing to can, and then canning all the goodies.

I do have to admit when you grow up this way, gardening and canning, as a younger kid- I did not look forward to stringing beans to can, and helping in the hot kitchen while mom was canning. Now, I truly appreciate all those great experiences that I had as a kid. We always had plenty of those Mason Jars to fill them with our garden abundance.

Now, these jars have been passed to me to use. I am not one who has a big garden every year. Honestly, time keeps me from doing things like that now. I do have the love to grow things like my parents and grandparents do… flowers, herbs, and even a few tomato plants.

For a while these jars just sat on my garage shelf and I was unsure what I wanted to do with all of them. Now, I have a hard time finding one that is not in use.

What did I do with my Mason Jars? I have used them to store staple items in my pantry- dried beans, snacks, cereal, etc. My son can grab one of those clear Mason Jars  with his snack and carry it with him if he is watching tv- no extra bowls/containers to wash!!!!  Mason Jars are great for shopping too! I can open my pantry quickly and “see” how much of an item I have left before I head out to the grocery store. My refrigerator contains these Mason Jars- great for liquid items— like milk, juice, lemonade, etc. It may not be the same as “canning from the garden”, but my kitchen has that Southern feel even when you open up the cabinets, pantry , or refrigerator.

Mason jars are great for entertaining friends or family. When we eat on the back porch, I will often put foods within the jars to carry them outdoors. It is a great way to showcase a beautiful salad, soups, or even my favorite—ice cream!!!! The uses are endless!!!!

The last few times that I have taken a meal to family who needed a meal due to sickness, I have used Mason Jars in order to transport the food. People are pleasantly surprised with the different way to showcase the food.

Lastly, my most favorite way to use Mason Jars is to display beautiful flowers/herbs. I have several beautiful vases for flowers, and yet I gravitate towards the Mason Jar. To me nothing is so simple as Mason Jar full of flowers. It is true Southern beauty and grace on display in your home. Maybe it is the thought of my childhood and the great memories of those I love that makes it so special to me- a Mason Jar smiling with love.

Now every time that I walk by the Mason Jars in Wilkes County Hardware, I can smile with love and remembrance of a great garden abundance-love.

Morning Coffee

Ahhh… the smell of a fresh pot of coffee brewing in the morning is the best wake up call ever. The coffee beans are freshly ground, the aroma fills the kitchen. The house is still quietly asleep, with the exception of our dogs. They are always eager to greet me in those quiet times of early morning. I grab one of my favorite pottery mugs (bought at a local shop down the street from our hardware store- Taupe) and then pour the first cup of freshly brewed coffee.

That first cup of coffee is part of my daily ritual, I must confess. One that brings time for me to reflect on the previous day, & to set goals for the new day. I guess I am not unique in that aspect, but I think I enjoy that first cup the most for many different reasons.

One of the best reasons why enjoy the first cup of coffee has to be the sweetness of my husband Richard, he makes the coffee every morning. It has become part of his routine after taking the dogs out early in the morning hours. All I have to do is get up pour the coffee, no effort involved on my part except to relax and enjoy it. Whether he realizes it or not, he has just added a small joy to my day by doing this little thing- making the coffee.

We do buy our fresh coffee beans at a local downtown coffee shop, Talia. Actually, we are regulars there. It is truly a great coffee experience. The owners & baristas make an effort to get to know you and what you like. So, yes, I love a great cup of coffee each and every morning. Talia has made that a little easier for me to cherish that first cup each day, just like my husband.

Well, lingering around the house is not something that usually happens in the midst of my life. Most days I’m off to school to teach, and out the door no later than 6:30am! Summer, brings a shift in schedule with more time to focus exclusively on the other job title I hold, co-owner of Wilkes County Hardware.

Upon arriving at Wilkes County Hardware, you can easily spot the coffee pot. It is currently stashed behind the wood stove. Richard and I are now in conversation about possibly moving it to a new location within the store, in order to create more floor space for merchandise. This would be a significant change for our staff and locals who frequent our store. Sometimes these decisions are an easy fix, and other times not so easy when routines are changed. But….

The morning coffee is brewed and ready for our first customers of the day at 7:30am. Of course the coffee is always free. That is just common Southern hospitality.

We have regular customers who even have their own cup/mug they keep stashed to use each day as they drink a cup of coffee with us and sit down for a quick visit before resuming their daily activities.

Coffee at the hardware store is a social event. The staff can gather together in the stillness of early morning hours before it gets too busy to do so and just enjoy a casual conversation, laughter, or even share a funny story.

But as the day progresses, others begin to wander in, picking up essentials they need for a job, or to complete a “to do” list at home. Many folks will find that morning coffee pot filled with freshly brewed coffee and just sit down for a few minutes to give themselves a moment of quiet reflection. Just like I have at home each morning 🙂

Daisies

One of my all time favorite flowers is the Daisy. I love the simplicity of this flower. Nothing is more beautiful than a field full of daisies in bloom. Daisies can symbolize new beginnings, purity, happiness, or even motherhood.  I just love that!!!

In 2015,  my family experienced a new beginning with the purchase of Wilkes County Hardware. One of the items at the top of our “to do list” was to make the store more inviting to ladies. I wanted to be a big part of this journey with my husband.

In the former years of ownership, ladies only came into our store to have a key made. By the way, WCH is known for the accuracy of our keys. Very few mistakes are made with our key cutting. If an issue arises with a key, we fix it, no charge!!!  Definitely not like the box store experience… Anyway, one of the first items was to create a more lady friendly shopping experience.  I wanted to keep it simple, like the daisy. Our store is rustic & vintage , like the daisy but it needed to “be soft around the edges” and happy to see you like the daisy. Wilkes County Hardware was no longer a place for just the men to gather, all are welcome!

So as hardware novices, we went off to our first hardware show in New Orleans. One of the our first purchases at the hardware show was Holland Bulbs—- you guessed it, flowers. We came back with lots of ideas and challenges to face. But we “plunged ahead”- no hardware puns intended,  goal one in progress….

Once word got out about the changes in store services, and items available for purchase, women began to shop with us. We began to sell items that had never been offered at Wilkes County Hardware such as, gardening supplies, & gardening accessories. It was a new local shopping experience could not be found anywhere else in our small hometown. Women were steadily coming in and felt comfortable shopping with us!!! Yes!!!! Success!!!

Now we are still trying to keep our message simple like the daisy- welcoming, & happy.  We gladly welcome all who visit our historic hardware store. It is always a pleasure to visit with locals and out of towners. It is definitely a unique shopping experience- not many people get to see a working freight elevator in the middle of the store!

Many of our local residents come by to get the basics they need for their home, or business, or they are seeking expert advice on a specific topic.

It is amazing to see how our “field of daisies” has changed so far… can’t wait to see what else will blossom in the future.