May the 4th be with you… I mean the workforce

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It would be easy to say that the way we work has changed significantly since Covid-19’s impact. Many people never stopped working during the shutdown, some temporarily worked for home, and others transitioned to full time work at home. Those in the skilled trades were considered essential workers, and their business boomed.

During Covid, it is my belief that the importance of Skilled Trade careers became appreciated, and valued by a larger population. Some might even say that these Skilled Trade careers are going to be “recession” proof… These careers will always be needed.

Elevator technician, Plumbers, Electricians, Welders… and many more career opportunities

But really… aren’t all careers important??? I never have understood why some people place more “value” on some careers than others. We all have value and worth in what we do. No stigma should ever be attached to any job or career path we choose.

Handcrafted woodworking

Today, May 4th is National Skilled Trades Day. This is observed annually on the first Wednesday in May. National Skilled Trades Day was established in 2019 by City Machine Technologies in Youngstown, Ohio. The purpose of the holiday was to raise awareness about the importance of skilled trades workforce in the United States, honor skilled trade workers, and also to create awareness about the skilled trades deficit in the United States.

Skilled trades are the individuals we call to repair our cars, complete complex electrical tasks, do plumbing repairs, build our homes, collect our blood, and ensure the health of our pets.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US will need close to 4 million skilled laborers to replace the nearly 8 million lost from the labor force during the pandemic. The pandemic created a significant labor shortage, and many Baby Boomers who left the skilled work force industries have chosen not to return. Some opted for early retirement rather than returning into the skilled workforce. Boomers are ready & waiting for a new generation to step into the skilled trades workforce.

For those highly skilled workers in trades such as welders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and others, the rate of pay is actually higher on average than college graduates. This rate of pay could grow as the demand for these trade careers increase.

So how do we move to filling the gap in trade based careers ??? The answer is simple in my opinion. We need to talk about it and find solutions. Educators, parents, grandparents, and community leaders, this is a discussion about educating our younger generations about ALL options they have available for career paths.

Beautiful handcrafted items are definitely part of our cultural heritage and legacy of trade based skills

Trade based careers offer a more specialized approach to learning in a specific field, ie plumbing or electrical. The overall cost of a trade based education is significantly less. The time involved in the training can be completed in one to two years versus college, 4 years or more depending on the educational path that is chosen.

College education is great, but every student may not be in the right mindset for university level learning or ready for the debt that it could bring into their future. It sure could save a lot of time, money, and heartbreak by exploring all career options if your teen is not ready for college.

Did you know that student loan debt is the second largest consumer debt factor for many Americans? Mortgage debt ranks first in the consumer debt category.

Student loan debt is estimated at $1.75 trillion with the US federal government holding 92 percent of the debt in student loans.

Approximately 43.4 million people in US have student loan debt(this equates to 1 in 8 Americans). This to me is a heavy dose of information… 😳asking a lot of a young person to tackle… finding a career, paying the student debt, management of family bills and more! Wow!!!

Ultimately, all a parent wishes for their children to have in their chosen career path is happiness, success, financial freedom & security. Right??? Laying out all possibilities in future potential careers today seems to me to be the responsibility of parents, educational staff & other stakeholders in the lives of children.

In closing, isn’t the key to success in a career this… finding what you are passionate about and not treat it as just a job you go to everyday???? Just a thought.

Thanks for reading y’all

Logistics

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.

Empty shelves are definitely not what a business owner wants to see

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.

Last year in 2020, gardening chemicals were extremely difficult to keep in stock

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.

Always viewing our order for substitutions when products are not available and looking for great new products to bring into our hardware store!!! Research is constantly being done by both of us.

9. FYI: Hands down the most requested item in 2020 & 2021 mason jars and canning lids!!!

Most asked about item during Pandemic

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.

Home in 2020… a look back

Many of us have spent a great deal of time at HOME in 2020. Just a couple of closing thoughts on HOME for you today as we look back at life in 2020.

2020.. simple joys return into our family Christmas traditions, the return of the Advent Calendar
  1. Home is where you belong, & are loved
  2. Home should tell your story of who you are, and be a showcase of your collection of treasures- albeit the things you love , in whatever form those treasures might be in- human, animal, plants, objects, etc
  3. Home can be a feeling, do you have multiple places where you truly feel at “home” when you are there???
  4. Some folks travel around the globe searching for home
  5. – When we leave home, we leave something of ourselves behind.
Our new bundle of Joy
Bella, our sweet Basset Hound

How we HOME has not really changed in 2020. We still have those essentials in place. Y’all may have DIYed in your home this year to reflect new needs within your home, but those beautiful memories are still strong.

Still having that first cup of coffee the day… time to relax and plan for the day
One of our most popular posts in 2020, our DIY painted floor

Y’all have made our small business HOME . We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for your continued support during 2020. We truly appreciate it. We are looking forward to another great year in 2021 as your #hometownhardware store.

A favorite gathering spot.. around the wood stove at Wilkes County Hardware

2020… “a year that will live in infamy”

As a retired history teacher, this day many years ago, was a watershed event in American history. Famously stated now by our former President, Franklin Roosevelt, “December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy-the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

How Americans lived and worked simply turned on a dime after this tragic day. America quickly entered into World War II and wartime life began.

My grandfather in his Navy uniform. He enlisted during WWII as a young man.

The significance of history sometimes makes me consider the present day… in 2020, our world has experienced one of those unique watershed events, fighting a pandemic.

No, we may not have sent troops into full combat across the globe to fight against tyranny. But for many folks, 2020 will be a year that will go down in “infamy “.

Those like my grandparents who were part of the Great Depression/WWII Era, were called the Greatest Generation, rightfully so, in my opinion.

Granny & Papa in their early years

The “Greatest Generation” was given the name by news anchor, Tom Brokaw. These folks contributed to war effort, fought in war, & helped however they could because it was the right thing to do. They also worked in war production plants, & rationed… yes, they sacrificed… they didn’t have the basic necessities so the troops could have them during the war. Meatless days, Wheatless days, no sugar, coffee, & gas rationing. What an amazing group of people who made our nation stronger! If you still have these folks in your life, hold them dearly in your heart & prayers each day.

Ration books, codes

What will history reveal about life in 2020 Pandemic Life??? Will it be a “Greatest Generation Scenario” where folks did everything they could??? Or will it be a more muddled view???

My mind goes back to the old Thomas Paine passage from the American Crisis, “ These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer solider and sunshine patriot will in times of crisis shrink, from the service of their country…”

2020 has brought trying times. No need to elaborate. People are struggling everywhere, sickness, quarantine, economic struggles, business closings… the list is long.

Thomas Paine wrote these words during the American Revolution. By the way, the word revolution, it is a synonym for change…. we talked a lot about this in history. It doesn’t have to be a “change” in governmental structure. Case in point, The Industrial Revolution- so much change occurred in our world during this time.

Think about how our lives have changed in 2020… new ways to teach students, working from home, zoom, curbside business, to go orders only at restaurants, the list is long and still changing daily. Life in 2020 has been revolutionary whether we realize it or not.

I must admit, at times, I wanted to shrink away and just go hide. The difficulties of 2020 have been relentless in my world. I would bet that we all have had those days… but 2020 experiences have made me a stronger person. I’m still here, working through different situations as they arise, one at a time, using friends & family and prayer as my anchors.

The revolutionary quote by Thomas Paine continues, “ but he who stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman”. In other words, we need to have strength to continue on.

Stay strong. Be safe. Practice social distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands. Follow the science. Do all the right things, like our grandparents did during WWII.

We are now experiencing some of the darkest times of the pandemic, our numbers seem to continue to rise more and more each day. Let’s end 2020 with Hope…. Such a small word, HOPE. The power it holds is mind boggling.

Quite mornings… beautiful sunrise always a beautiful way to begin a day… Hope springs anew

I leave you today with more words from the World War II Era, just like I began this blog post… Winston Churchill’s famous line from WWII, “we shall never surrender”. In the speech he gave, he told the people of his nation, “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields…” in other words, he told them, we are not giving up. We will press on… The “Greatest Generation”.

So I guess that could be a significant lesson for us today in 2020. Not giving up, always seeking answers, finding solutions to difficult problems. “Never surrender”. Go find your hope today.

Hope

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!!!! 😉