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 πŸͺ 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:)

Messy Monday

The day began like any ordinary Monday.  I drove B to school, walked with my good friend on the Greenway soaking up all those great late summer morning vibes. It was absolutely fabulous morning to be outside.

Richard sent me a picture of the huge truck shipment that had just arrived at the hardware store. We made plans for the day. I would go home quickly after my walk on the Greenway and make a few sandwiches for lunch, then head into the store. The unpacking of the boxes would be an all day event. We had a plan.

I arrived at the store to find out that our computers were not working and the credit card machine was down. We were hand calculating every sale and handwriting every purchase… the internet was down!

Since the internet issues were not a quick fix and progress not being made quickly via phone calls, I had to leave to take care of other business for the store. Richard was embedded in the internet problem he was on the phone again with our current internet provider. So, I drove back across town to unlock a local pool padlock so folks could swim. Richard had not been able to leave that morning to go take care of that simple task. Upon my return, he told me someone was to call us within the hour to set up an appointment to take care of the internet issues.

We worked through lunch, helping our customers and time passed quickly because we were busy. In the retail world busy is always good! We did not receive a call from our internet provider, and our boxes were still there waiting to be dealt with. Another call to internet folks, someone would call us back soon was the promise.

Meanwhile, we worked on the boxes of store stock. Some of the items that had arrived in the boxes were some purchases from the Chicago hardware show. Funny thing though… we ordered 1 toaster and 1 iron to see how these new items would do as home essentials… in the boxes we found 12 toasters and 12 irons instead!!!! That was a bit of a surprise, of course we had to pay for those extra items when we received the truck shipment that morning. I called our Orgill rep and he came by to fix the error in shipping- thank you Steve!!!

Putting up store stock is not easy as opening the boxes and then finding where it goes. Everything has to be checked off, accounted for, ticketed correctly, and then placed in the correct location of the store. New items.. well, that does take longer because often you have to move products in order to make room for those new products.

Another thing to note: with the new tariffs, prices are consistently changing with any type of metal items.. so when any type of metal piece comes in it is ticketed and placed on the store shelf, it needs to be double checked to ensure that all of the current store stock is priced appropriately- all with the new price increase. This is a time consuming task, we have lots of small metal pieces… need I say more.

Late afternoon that messy Monday brought two more interesting events: 1.  our internet would not be restore until possibly Wednesday. That little nugget of news was a hard pill to swallow as a business owner. We began to problem solve for other possible solutions. 2.  A car pulled into one of the front parking spaces outside our front door. An elderly gentleman came inside our store while his wife remained in the car. He began to chat with us about what he needed. Suddenly, a huge POP sound came out from his car. From my perspective, it appeared that smoke was coming out from the engine. I thought the engine of their car had blown up. Everyone close by heard the noise and people started to gather to assist these folks. It was the front tire that had popped. They were so extremely lucky that the tire had not popped while they had been driving down the road!!! The smoke must have been from the tire.

In the midst of messy Monday, one thing was consistent all day… our customers were fabulous!!! They were patient, & understanding of a situation that we could not easily fix. Many people said, ” that is all right, I would rather shop local”, I don’t mind to pay cash today.

Even in those messy Monday moments when things seemed to be difficult, we were able to get those sweet moments from our customers who keep us going. This is why we do what we do, messy days or good days. They are all the same… you guys keep us going in the right direction.  Thank you!!! We appreciate your support!!!

 

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ American Flags, β€œwe remember…”

September 11th a day that many of us who are old enough, will always remember where you were located the moment you learned the news of what transpired that morning.

This post is not about the history of the September 11th attacks but the days & months after September 11th. “We remember…”

I remember with clarity in the days following the events of September 11th, a huge surge in American flag sales skyrocketed. People just wanted to show support for those who had lost so much in this awful tragedy. The trickle down was felt into all small towns within our nation. Our small town was absolutely experiencing the same…

September 2001 was well before we were hardware store owners. Richard was working for another company during this time. He would often see folks buying up American flags as fast as they were arriving inside the store. One day Richard was able to purchase one of those American flags for our new home. I was excited to have one coming! Richard had just texted me the news, he was finishing up an errand and would be home shortly. He was in town, and he left the flag in the car… the American flag was stolen out of his car while he was gone. Absolutely nothing else had been taken out of the car, just the flag was missing.

We didn’t get the fly a beautiful American flag at that time to honor those who had lost so much. I do believe that we as Americans all carry that patriotic spirit/sense of remembrance every day since the events of September 11th.

This experience with the loss of the American flag left an impression on both of us. Upon buying a hardware store in 2015, one of the first things we noticed was the American Flag flying outside the store everyday. We wanted to make sure that our customers could always find a high quality American flag in our store for purchase. So when we arrived in New Orleans (our first hardware show) we made sure to order from Valley Forge Flags to keep that tradition alive.

In 2018, we added another service for our customers- drop off old American flags for proper disposal. Our customers can leave an old American flag and we will make sure the Flag Code of the US in observed in the discarding of the American flag. Our community received this service well and plan to continue to do this well into our future.

American Flags… “we remember”…

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 πŸŽ‚ 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 skillsπŸ˜‰

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 guyπŸ˜‰.

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!!!! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

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 definedπŸ‘πŸ»

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!!! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰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!

Customer Service and a new tv…

Ok, I have a bit of a story to share, so this maybe a long one folks. A few weeks ago we decided to switch our tv service up, & in the process of learning about this new system we were looking at, the discovery was made that our tv HDMI ports were not working😩. A new tv was on the horizon for us to purchase sooner than later.

Richard checked prices online and then we decided to “store shop” and make a purchase. This was not supposed to take weeks!!!! Well, it has….

Our first big box store shopping experience was shocking. Only 5 of the TVs were on in the electronics section of the store. We asked about a specific model, could they turn it on- the response was “no”and a way far out tale of why they couldn’t turn them on… A manager complaint soon followed after we left the store.

After the first store experience, we decided to wait until after we returned from the Chicago Hardware Show before we made the tv purchase… to be continued

Big box store number 2 the service was lackadaisical. We asked about a specific tv, he went to see if they had it and returned and said “no we don’t have it” and pretty much walked away. 😳

Big Box Store 3 we never saw a sales person… tv we thought we might like was not in stock, left this store our options were quickly running out! 😩

Our final redemption of good customer service came at the last store we visited. Thank you Noah!!! He walked right up after we had looked around for a few minutes, asked us what we were looking for, price range, brand preferences… you name it, he covered it all! He was so helpful. Y’all, this young man got it right!!! The great customer service didn’t end there. Our tv was not carried by us to our car… no way- these folks placed inside the vehicle and did it with a smile. Amazing experience!!!!!

Before we arrived at the last store, we were dismayed at quality of service at every store we had been to, really this should not be a hard task!!! 😳

So what is the point? I’m not really sure why people are flocking to the box stores to get service that is substandard. We often hear from our customers that, “I can never get anyone to help me at …., I know you guys can help me”. At Wilkes County Hardware our customers are valued, we wish to meet their needs or try to find alternative solutions if we cannot help them out with a specific product.

Carry out to car is a great way help our customers with larger items that maybe heavy or bulky. We never want our customers to feel the way we felt as we shopped for a that new tv.

Our goal at Wilkes County Hardware is to follow the pattern of great customer service that Noah beautifully modeled: listen, ask questions, offer solutions, wait time for decision making, & follow through on purchase (carry out- if needed or requested) all in a polite manner.

Thank you for shopping local!!!! We appreciate your support πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰.,

Shop Local

Friday evening our local community was humming with activities. Downtown North Wilkesboro hosted the Art Gallery Walk. People were everywhere in the downtown area visiting the gallery, & the downtown stores were full of great artists. Many good friends and customers took time to stop into our store to say hello to us & watch Keegan Watson work wonders with wood!!! Thank you!!!! Richard & I had fun visiting with everyone & thank you for shopping local.

A significant trend that I noticed as people were shopping in our store Friday night, most folks purchased locally made products!!! Wow!!!! I know that our local artisans/entrepreneurs will be thrilled to hear this news. Thank you for building up our community with your purchase.

Community… yes, when we shop local we directly impact our economic growth in our local community. Did you know that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms β€” further strengthening the economic base of the whole community? What a difference that makes!!!!

As I drove home late Friday evening, I came through Wilkesboro. My heart was full already, the day had been good… then I turned and looked… more community in action… in the Wilkesboro Commons was an outdoor movie playing, games,& other family fun activities. My smile widened, community building in action in both towns in the same night. Let’s keep this momentum going strong. Thanks for shopping local & building our community into a fabulous place to live.