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!!!! 😉

The “Soundtrack of the Hardware Life”

Music is good for the soul💕. Doesn’t it seem to express how you are feeling some days???

Do you notice the background music inside a store or a restaurant???

When you enter a place & the music doesn’t seem to “fit” the mood of place, it can leave an impression on your dining or shopping experience. If the mood and the music match, you will leave remembering your experience as positive one.

All that begin said, Music can be powerful force inside a business.

Richard & I have been discussing music. What type of music is best inside our store???

Here is a small peak inside our store

In the first few years of business ownership, the music was a mash of whatever was playing on the radio. Every tune that came out of the radio, we had begun to realize, just didn’t fit the mood of our store.

So the soul searching began. What do our customers expect for “mood music” inside our store??? Who is our target audience??? Our store has that old, rustic feel… so how does everyone feel about the music, or do y’all even notice it??? We had lots of questions rolling around in our minds.

Decisions…we both love all different types of genres of music, so it was becoming a difficult choice, but our favorites should not drive our final decision… it should be based on what our customers feel as a connection to our store.

Then COVID hit. Things changed quickly for us as we moved into curbside service only. Wayne, one of our longtime employees, decided that home was where he needed to be. It was the safest option for him. Adjustments were made in staffing, and his “boom box” back at the key desk was silent.

I missed those classic country tunes that Wayne always played while he worked. I missed him and his music. His radio station was always a classic country music station. No one turned his radio station to another one… it was just what was always on. So one of my connections to the hardware store was Wayne’s music. 🎶🎶🎶🎶

Music & song lyrics have a way of bringing up memories that are powerful. We missed Wayne, and playing country music in his absence, was a way of having a small part of him there with us. A new pattern began to emerge for us during the COVID curbside. We were listening to country music.

Our discussions turned then to maybe we should look at that genre of music. To us, it seemed to make sense. Country music does have a more laid back tone, & rustic nature. Country music also tends to focus on life in the everyday. The song lyrics communicate ordinary life. Shopping at your local hardware store can be part of your routine errands, usual stops… you know… things you do everyday.

Local artisans keep us well stocked in high quality handmade products

You may not have noticed our music inside our store on your last visit. We are consistently trying to keep the country music 🎶 going. We are still developing playlists, and adjusting our music to hopefully keep our customers happy.

Our ultimate goal, that y’all find our music to be a perfect fit for your shopping experience with us at Wilkes County Hardware. Whether the music just blends into the background or speaks to your soul as you shop.🎶🎶

As a closing footnote: IG stories survey results- 75 percent of our customers think country music is a good fit for our store. It appears we have found our hardware Life soundtrack 😉.

Letter to Graduating Seniors

I was asked by a local publication to share my best wishes & advice for the current graduating class of 2020. This was my first narrative after my grandmother’s passing in May. I am so thankful that Brian Carlton asked me to do this because I lacked the motivation to write anything after her death.

I’m grateful to a few friends who were willing to share their thoughts & ideas with me as I went through this writing process. Thanks for being my tribe 💕. I hope y’all enjoy the letter to graduating seniors.

Senior Class of 2020,

Congratulations! What an amazing achievement you have just reached in life! I am so very happy for each and everyone of you! As a retired teacher, and now a local business owner, I know how hard each of you has worked in order to get to this day! Your greater community is so very proud of you.

So what happens next in your educational and life journey? The world today gives us a perception that times are too uncertain. Please know that your decisions are all within your circle of control. You have the ability to control your words, thoughts, actions, choices, behaviors, & efforts. I do realize these historic and unprecedented times are not how you envisioned your graduation. But, now is the time to celebrate your achievements, cherish your school memories, and look ahead to the future. Dig deep within yourself and find that inner strength to focus on potential opportunities for your future.

Speaking of new opportunities, some of you might be thinking of heading off to a university, community college, or possibly even in the “world of work”. No matter what path you take in the next few years, you will continue to evolve, change and grow as a young adult. Learning will be a constant in life.

As you transition into the next phase of life, here are a few reflective life learning experiences that I have found to be helpful in my journey. I hope you can use these 7 tips as insight & encouragement for your future endeavors.

1. Treasure those in your life. Love your “tribe of family & friends” fiercely. Nothing is guaranteed or promised in this world. So that being said, stay connected, call home! Visit home as much as you possibly can do it. Your family is a very important part of your journey & they will be your biggest advocate.

2. Keep life simple. Experiences & memories in life are the things you will always have, possessions will not last.

3. Dream BIG! Set goals for yourself. Life is not a sprint, it is a journey to be enjoyed & cherished. When you set a goal, understand it may take years to fully achieve, & be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

4. Show kindness to yourself & others. Let this one sink in for a minute. Life is not a perfect process. We all learn from success and failure. Be gracious & extend kindness in all things you do. Remember to say “thank you”, “yes ma’am”,& “no sir”. A kind heart goes a long way in our world.

5. Connections in life are important. The people you meet & encounter in life will sometimes circle back into your life via work, church, friends, or even into family circles. Use compassion, grace & understanding in difficult situations.

6. Find and develop your skills & talents. What are you passionate about? As you grow and change, your interests and inspiration can create new opportunities. Be flexible. Be willing to adapt to new ideas and change.

7. Last, but not least, keep your body strong … mentally and physically. Let’s elaborate. Reading as an adult helps your mental capabilities, increases vocabulary skill set, & can improve memory. Reading for information is a powerful tool. Become an independent thinker, read and form your own opinions about news, politics and the world around us. And remember, it is ok to disconnect from your devices and unwind at the end of the day. Reflection is an excellent way to disconnect from the daily grind and evaluate what is next. In those quiet moments (in the car, spiritual time,journaling, etc) allows you to evaluate your goals, make decisions about goals…is this the path I still wish to take? do I need to adapt my goals, what did I learn along the way? In essence, you can learn from your success & mistakes.

And finally, be physically active…get outside when you can, enjoy the natural world around you, it is good for your overall health.

My final parting wish to you today, “may you be richly blessed in your journey ahead”. Your greater community is excited to see how your success will continue to add to our future growth in the years ahead.

Sincerely,

Angela Searcy

Co-owner of Wilkes County Hardware