Nailing Things Down

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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.

A Flood of Memories

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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.

Water came up to the bottom of the fixtures, any higher and we would have lost significantly more merchandise

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.

We were extremely lucky that the water didn’t impact our technology, we pushed water away from here first
Water… everywhere!!!
Our wooden ladder wall took some time to dry out, luckily that the water level wasn’t too high

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.

Check out the water line on the lock shop front door… the white line marks the water line 😬

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.

The Clothesline

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I was walking around the hardware store yesterday checking the shelves for products that needed replenishment. I came upon a roll of clothesline. My mind began to instantly wander from the task at hand. My productivity waned… I was lost in my thoughts.

We sell clothesline at Wilkes County Hardware, even the old fashioned cotton type & clothespins

The memories came flooding back of my mom’s clothesline when I was growing up. We spent the Saturdays putting the sheets, & towels onto the clothesline. It was a time saver for mom, not having to run the dryer all day after working all week.

My sister and I both had “jobs” while we were assisting hanging clothes on the clothesline. We both were too young to reach the clothesline for ourselves. We had it down to a well-oiled system. One of us carried the old metal dishpan outside into the fresh, clean air towards the line. Of course the clothespins were in hand too. Once we were at the line, I handed mom each piece of laundry from the dishpan, while my younger sister, delved out the clothespins. Mom hung the laundry in sync with the wind. The whole process didn’t take long.

Mom used an old metal dishpan like this one, wet laundry was too heavy in the laundry basket… of course I asked her why she used this when I was little…

Now, memories are often nostalgic… so I must say that my mom’s memories of these Saturdays at the clothesline are probably different from ours. She probably remembers the trips out to the clothesline where we both complained about the weather being too hot, or bees flying too closely, or even those hateful chestnut burrs that were close by waiting to prey on our innocence toes/feet in the late summer/early fall months. I know complaints were definitely lodged… but we always finished our task, hanging the laundry out to dry.

Oh… those chestnut burrs were rough on the feet!!!

I’m glad my sister & I were able to experience so many wonderful things during our childhood that are now seemingly falling away into the past.

Everyone used to have a clothesline… now I bet that if you still have a clothesline in 2021, you are a rare lucky person.

Back to nostalgia, as we both grew older, mom sent us out to the clothesline to hang or even harvest the freshly dried clothes. I took them down while my sister held the fresh loot.

I can still smell the scent of the sheets & towels dried outdoors. Nothing was better than those air dried sheets on your bed at night.

However, I do recall, that towels and washcloths from the line were not a favorite of mine. They were a little too rough for my liking. We used the line mostly for sheets anyways.

My dad eventually took the old chestnut trees down and made way for some new backyard landscaping as I got older. The clothesline was used less frequently as we got older.

But that clothesline was a constant in my backyard during my childhood. Things change as do people. I will always cherish those good memories of times spent together at the clothesline, soaking up the fresh outdoor air & sunshine.

100 Year Old Dust

“I dusted once and it came back… I’m not falling for that again😂.” Anyone else heard of this cute little quote??? Have you ever been there yourself???

Dusting your home can be one of those thankless tasks that you are doing often. If you have the right tools from your Wilkes County Hardware team it can be an easier chore to accomplish. So before I get too busy with my blog post, don’t forget we have some great cleaning products for your home. Come see us soon!!! We always enjoy your visits!!!

Back to blog post reality… the running joke at Wilkes County Hardware… we have the best dust ever!!! We all affectionately refer to it as “100 Year Old Dust”. That’s right… we have the good stuff, century old dust 😂. What is even more amazing… it never seems to disappear😳.

Our building dates back into the early 1900’s. A good guesstimate would be our building could be 116 years old.

Those of y’all that have been loyal readers of my blog may also recall the blog post about “Old School Air Conditioning”… in other words, we open the doors and let the air circulate through, all the pollen, dust, & dirt naturally flows inside. Creating more dust you know…

The broom is busy usually during the slower times to help sweep up some of the 100 Year Old Dust as time allows AND we try to regularly clean the racks as often as we can. But, the century old dust floats down from the upstairs level and often settles onto surfaces… it is a constant battle.

A great point of nostalgia inside our store would have to be our freight elevator… folks love it. Yes, it still works and we use it often. The elevator does a create that large gaping hole inside our building, allowing the 100 year old dust to freely flow from second floor to our main floor.

Lastly, one of the unique features of our hardware store is the wood stove. During the cold weather season, the stove creates its own “dusty” problems, but it is our main source of heat and folks love it too.

Life inside an old school hardware store as you might recall in your own personal experience…seeing a bit of dust or even a “packed hardware inventory” in which only the owner knows where everything is located. So an old school hardware store can be full of nostalgia for many of us… right??? A trip back down memory lane of times past, & times we enjoyed. Nostalgia to me could be best defined as memories of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never wish to lose.

Here’s a good old school hardware store bit of nostalgia from my childhood. I can remember the days of going into nearby hardware store in Roaring River with my dad just wondering how on earth could they find anything in there!!! Every surface was covered with hardware products, and I remember seeing the old, dusty floors. It was always an adventure going inside there in my mind as a kid.

So it got me to thinking a little bit…. Folks might be seeking some old school hardware store nostalgia when they arrive at Wilkes County Hardware. I think they are pleased to see that these type of stores still exist in 2021.

We are extremely thankful & grateful for the opportunity to help those in our community by offering several hardware services unique to our business, and maybe not offered anywhere else in town.

I’ll be content keeping track of our 100 Year Old Dust everyday because you can’t find another hardware store like ours anywhere else in town… the old school hardware store, complete with 100 Year Old Dust, and so much more 😊.

Full Circle Moment

I was standing in my kitchen Thursday morning before leaving to go to the hardware store, listening to Hoda and Jenna in the background on the television.

Hoda began to discuss a feature she had recently saw on Warren Buffett. He had revealed a bit of life advice.

The life advice conversation Hoda was retelling focused on the people in your inner circle, those who you could call upon in times of crisis or need. Buffett had spoken about a dear friend who survived Auschwitz. Every time they would meet someone new, they make a mental note, “would they have hid me”?

Wow… those type of friends or family are the people you need in your inner circle of life. Definitely those who you can count on in times of laughter and crisis….Right???

It was always an an “Aha moment”, when my middle students realized that Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr were born in the same year, 1929.

I retired from teaching in 2019 in order to spend more time with my son, grow as a business owner, and to help care for my grandparents

This interview piece brought several things to the forefront of my mind. I recalled that, Holocaust Remembrance Day was earlier this past week.

One of things we discussed in class was how different their experiences were, but the history of the times bonded them together, they were in the “same life boat of history “.

Amsterdam at Night

As I heard the interview from my kitchen, it all came to me…my grandparents were born in 1928. This was not a revolutionary insight, but more of a full circle moment for me.

I have lost two people from my inner circle that loved me dearly. The events from the interview and real life combined into my daily existence…

My grandparents would have been there for me if I needed them.

My inner circle may have grown smaller, but those who are inside that circle, are there because they would do anything they could for me or my family.

Grief is hard…

AND Life is short y’all. Find & keep those who are in your inner circle, those who would have “hid” you.

My grandparents witnessed a tremendous amount of history in their lifetime. Just like Anne Frank & MLK, they “arrived in different ships” but they ended up in the same “historical boat”.

Is your “boat” full ??? Who’s in your inner circle of care??? Do you have room for more on board???

February brings me full circle in 2021. This time last year, my grandmother took a huge downturn in health. I spent many hours at my grandparents house and a few hours in between at the hardware store.

With both of my grandparents now gone, I have more time to focus work, another huge part of my life journey, Another chapter…

Perspective. Chapters do come to an end, & things change. Sometimes life is hard. As another chapter begins to unfold, another one concludes.

I realize that these chapters should not dictate my life story, and I know they are an important part of my story.

So I’m ready this February to greet the circle of change, coming full circle.