Hardware Life

I just realized that my last blog post was written a few days before my grandmother died. Honestly, I haven’t had the time, or the motivation to write much since her death😢.

I have been “MIA” in the hardware store over the last few weeks . I know my absence makes it harder for my husband and our staff to work effectively. I owe them a special treat for sure!!!

When I’m not there, I miss it. Yes, I do work with my husband every day and we have survived 😉… but seriously, I do miss our customers when I can’t be there.

The photo I provided for you today is a lovely gift that was on the front counter when I arrived late Tuesday afternoon💕💕💕.

Today I’m sending out a “huge thank you” to our friends, Eric & Chelsea Brown, better known as Made in McGrady. You can find them featured in several of our social media posts.

On social media I often use the hashtag, #thehardwarelife for our hardware store posts. The “hardware life” is continuing to evolve as we come up on our 5 year anniversary of hardware store ownership.

So after these first 5 years of ownership, I’m reflecting back on what #thehardwarelife actually looks like in real life??? Here is a small glimpse inside our daily lives…#thehardwarelife.

1. First and foremost our Hardware store staff & local artisans have become our family too!!!! I’m so proud to work with such fabulous professionals and have created great friendships with this new journey in our lives.

2. Community… you folks drive us each and every day to meet your needs in the hardware industry. We continue to add new products based on customer requests and availability.

3. Hardware doesn’t take the day off- we typically work 7 days a week (both of us) … always doing something related to business that needs to be addressed…. Early mornings and late days… most days it is literally “sleep, eat, hardware, repeat”. You have to love what you do in order to work that hard, right???

4. Anyone know a logo we use at Wilkes County Hardware???? I would bet if you are a social media follower of ours, then you know our key logos. Wilkes County Hardware t-shirt or hat anyone??? Yes, we have definitely been busy over the last few years working on building some great merchandise options for y’all. I bet you will find that if you see us out and about in town, we are sporting a hat or something else with a Wilkes County Hardware logo. Hardware work is a big part of our day.

One of our best selling logo hats

5. It is very common to come home dusty and dirty after a long day at the hardware store. I like to call it the “100 year old dust” phenomenon. The vintage, rustic nature of our hardware store brings in the dust and dirt … cleaning up is a constant and hard to keep up with 🤪!!! We all (staff) tend to joke that some of the dust has been here for💯 years!!! 😂😂

6. You have to dress for the weather as part of #thehardwarelife. At Wilkes County Hardware, we are subject to the “all natural” air conditioning- yep… no AC in our building… the doors let in the breeze. We installed new ceiling fans last summer to improve air flow. A dramatic change for our staff & customers!!! 😎

7. That smoky wood stove smell… Everyone who enters our store usually will find and ask about our old wood stove. We use the wood stove as our main heat source in the winter… the further you move away from the stove, the heating difference is dramatic on cold weather days🥶. The wood burning smell lingers in your clothing… well you smell… let’s just say… like the great outdoors. 🌳🌳🌳

Our wood stove is a constant source of heat

8. Hardware is hard work- truck deliveries… heavy lifting- 50 lbs bags, walking on concrete floors, thread& cut pipe, cutting chain, screen wire , window glass, this is just a small list of what we do everyday.

9. We really do live a simple lifestyle… we eat most of our meals at home, grilling is essential of course all year long , we 💕our dogs, & spending time with family /friends

10. Wilkes County Hardware encompasses more than the 1,700 square feet of hardware floor space we offer to our customers, the heart of our store is you!!! ❤️

In 2015, #thehardwarelife was a dream, now it is our purpose in life. So to those of you who have been faithfully following along via social media channels, we appreciate y’all making the journey with us and helping us be a bridge to a wider audience. I continue to be amazed at how our followers continue to grow in size, & scope- organically, the way it should be done. Thank you 😊

Our Family… Always First

Total honesty post…

The picture I’m sharing with y’all today is from our trip back from Yadkinville last night. The sunset was breathtaking. Richard commented on its grandeur as we began our drive back from Mountain Valley Hospice House. I was able to capture only a small portion of the skies natural state. Richard & I have made this trip together regularly for the last week now. Spending a few moments each day with a very sick loved one, are minutes that I will treasure always. 💕

So I’m just getting it out there, these times are hard. Everyone is struggling somehow in life. Life is not “normal “ anymore. COVID 19 has changed how we live and work or not working. Changes have been coming fast in the last few months and some folks have been sick. People are ready to get things back to normal.

That being said, I am going to address the next phase of business for us at Wilkes County Hardware and what our current vision looks like.

After May 8th, WCH will still do curbside service only at this time. We will slowly proceed with caution. Our WCH staff is like our family. Many of you know, Wayne has been home waiting out the brunt of the COVID crisis and we miss him dearly🤗. Our staff has been great to work through such a unique & challenging time. We love & appreciate each and every staff member at WCH. As a business owner, we feel compelled to create a safe & healthy working environment for our staff, they are our family too.

Many folks have been gracious, kind and understanding of the new normal at WCH, curbside service only. Please know that we value each and everyone of you!!! We must take care of our family first, immediate family and our staff. So business will not be normal for us for a while longer. We appreciate your kindness and understanding as we do our best to help you with your hardware store needs.

Eventually our plans are to gradually reopen our doors, welcoming our customers & community back inside the rustic walls of Wilkes County Hardware. Social distancing and other criteria will be in place when we reopen based on the current CDC recommendations. Please stay posted for further updates and information.

Thank you

Richard & Angela Searcy

#Wilcostrong

What is Wilco…

We live in Wilkes County, NC. I guess you could say the “younger generation” have been calling our county, Wilco for several years. A fellow business owner, Cook’s Sporting Goods, has been able to market that effectively for the last few years. It has become quite trendy/fashionable to wear Wilco gear.

What is #Wilcostrong…

Simply put, our Wilkes County community pulling together and working together for a greater good during this COVID crisis.

Idea Time…

Back in March 2020, local restaurants had already been forced to do curbside only. The stress was already beginning to show and many local businesses were anxious about what was going to happen next. Our small town has taken several hits to our economy in the last several years. Major businesses have left, & corporate offices are gone. Food insecurity is a issue for more people than some people care to realize. I felt we needed to be working together to share our stories in order to help each other. Cook’s Sporting Goods had started to share out other small businesses Instagram stories each day… The Cook’s team and I had discussed potentially doing that to direct more business information flow to local businesses & locally owned restaurants. This sharing of information was to help our community to be more aware of current changes in business hours, new menus, new products, curbside services, etc. (By the way, this was all before the NC state executive order to shutdown).

Original WCH hardware store post…

Here is the direct context of the Facebook/Instagram post from March 18, 2020…

“So many businesses in our small town have been dramatically impacted by the current health crisis. We are open for business and several other small businesses are offering curbside service. Find our Instagram stories for local updates from other local businesses across our 2 towns. We are #wilcostrong!!! Other local businesses, we encourage you to use this hashtag to show support for our community. Simply add your business logo or storefront to this hashtag and share out to your Facebook or Instagram page and let’s work together in order to keep our local businesses functioning during this unprecedented event. Feel free to share other small businesses posts to share information out to a larger audience. We can do this together!!! Lastly, a BIG thank you to our followers and customers who continue to shop local!!! We couldn’t do this without you!!! 😊”

So that was it…

A simple post asking for fellow businesses to tag posts using a hashtag and to work together.

What happened next…

I received a text message from a friend once he saw the logo on the Cook’s Sporting Goods Facebook page with a Wilcostrong logo- he made a suggestion of a t-shirt using #wilcostrong as a 💡 idea. One quick phone call and the Cook’s team began to seriously work on this potential new idea…. Here you go, the birth of the t-shirt fundraiser project began…..

Hashtag time…

So we had the hashtag #wilcostrong and it was starting to trend among local businesses, folks were sharing each other’s posts via Instagram stories, helping to spread the word about local businesses. It makes me smile just a little bit wider each time I see another local business sharing what someone else is doing😊

T-shirt design…

#Wilcostrong was beginning to catch on, we had an idea and we wanted to capture the movement in a positive direction. The idea of t-shirt design was in the works. The team at Cook’s got busy working on a design with an old school pickup truck, loaded with goodies from shopping trips at local retailers without specifying names. It would be virtually impossible to name every small business in town. Cook’s team worked with us as equals- we helped to pick final design & color of the t-shirt. By the time the shirt was ready, to print, NC Business shutdown was in effect. Many of our neighbors in Downtown North Wilkesboro are currently closed and unable to do business as usual. 😢

Giving Back…

We were all in agreement that too many local folks had already been impacted by the NC state shutdown. So it was agreed by all involved that we should give proceeds to Samaritan’s Kitchen.

At least $5.00 or more of t-shirt sales ( per shirt) would be given back to Samaritan’s Kitchen. Samaritan’s Kitchen serves as a local food pantry for our community. Each week, volunteers help to organize and bag 700 “backpack” food bags for needy local students& their families each and every week!!! With the current Covid crisis, teachers, & counselors, or bus drivers are delivering those out to student families if they are unable to get to school each week!!! So, the need is great inside our community and constant.

Results are still coming in…

At the time this blog post was posted, 286 t-shirts have been sold so far!!!! One local business owner ordered t-shirts for their entire staff😊. Orders are continuously coming in each day. Absolutely amazing!!!! 💕

January

The trees are bare, no leaves are found. You can see a tree in its true natural form. Every limb is exposed… the natural beauty of the trees are everywhere. Do you see it???

In January and February most hardware retailers go through the “bare tree” season. The holiday rush is over, cold weather keeps folks inside, and all the shopping “fluff” is gone. People are conservative with funds after the holidays… I’m going to go back to my analogy of the tree, the “leaves are gone” = budgeting funds after holidays.

The hardware store season is in its natural state in January…people are seeking out DIY needs, making needed repairs to things that break😬, keys, furnace filters, in essence, completing just the basics. We often call it the slow season.

During the “bare tree season ” some people are often anxiously waiting for winter to end and spring to come on back in a hurry. Yes, as hardware retailers, we don’t enjoy the January economic slowdown but it does provide opportunities for us to work on our spaces- see our natural beauty 😉, launch new ideas to our customer base- adding new limbs to our tree, and begin to think about spring when the leaves start to fill back in. How was that for serious analogy tie in???

Regardless of how you view January, it is a time of endless opportunities to advance into your goals for 2020 or it can be a time to stay in past… things aren’t like they used to be when….

I guess it depends on which perspective you wish to take… the natural beauty of the season or all the leaves are gone, type of mindset.

We are ready to see y’all whenever you need us, we are “rooted” in our community and ready to help when you need us😉!

Snowpocalypse of 2018

“Snowpocalypse” is defined according to dictionary.com  as a major winter storm which shuts down a city or town and brings about some overreactions as a results of the impending storm.

We are coming up on the anniversary of this “Snowpocalyse” here in our hometown. It is still very fresh in our brains I must say even today as hardware retailers. What a huge event for our town, an early December snow, totaling 16-18 inches in our county- depending on where you live!!!! This was huge!!!! We rarely can total this much snowfall all winter long!!!!  So let’s set the stage a little bit and travel back in time to recall some of this “Snowpocalyse in December of 2018”.

Monday December 3rd arrived like any other Monday- it was truck day. The guys were unloading merchandise from our main vendor supplier and preparing for the week… I’m busy at school (this is before I retired)… there were some rumblings of a possible snow storm that could break later in week…. It was business as usual.

At dinner on Monday evening,  Richard reported that we were busy with a “flurry of activity ” ⛄️ and people seemed to be preparing for winter weather early. That is always a good sign as a retailer, you want your community to have what they need before a storm hits, not in the midst of a storm, and dealing with aftermath after the fact.

By Wednesday Richard and I were in deep conversation about several items:

  1. We were seriously running out of major items that we need in order to service our customers heating needs- we need to order more heaters, ice melt, lamp oil, shovels, the list was long… we decided to place an order with a company which we use that will ship quickly, and more merchandise would be in store by Friday morning, people were buying and planning for a big winter storm!

2. I was in constant communication with my brother in law in Charleston, SC concerning the weather. By the way, he works for the National Weather Service in Charleston, he does not forecast for our local area, but he can definitely tell us what could transpire with the weather in our area with definite certainty. I trust his skills as a professional. He is quite amazing as well as my sister, what can I say, I am very blessed with great family:)  We were getting regular updates from him as well as the local weather stations. It was coming together as a major storm. As a hardware retailer, storm prep is always on your mind, and how to balance your inventory needs vs demand of the consumer- (how much do I really need???)

3. Sales were heavy and people were definite snow prep mode!

4. If the storm hits on Saturday evening/Sunday like the projections, what would this do to our truck coming on Monday with all the other items we have ordered??? What would we do then if the truck could not get through our area???? We would be without essentials needed for an extended time????

5. “Snowpocalyse”is coming…..????

Thursday evening came and we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the much needed extra merchandise on Friday morning.

Friday Morning:

School was in session for me, & we discussed the potential snowfall. We looked at the forecast for our area, our class have completed a huge weather unit in 7th grade science earlier in the year. It was not unusual for us to discuss weather. Of course, the kids knew that I had been talking to my brother in law, and they seriously wanted the scoop on his thoughts too! Our discussions turned to potential final snowfall totals- the guesses ranged from 4 inches all the way up to 20 inches!!! We all laughed at those really high totals. These kiddos have never really seen that much snow at once in their lifetime. Never did I think that we would be close on the higher end of the potential totals!!!! (“Snowpocalyse” )?????

Richard on the other hand was extremely busy!!!! The local television station had called early in the morning and asked if they could come up for an interview. The tv crew arrived as the truckload of supplies were being unloaded. Literally, people were buying things as they were coming off the truck!!! The phone was ringing off the hook all day!!! It was so busy all day long!!! We were extremely grateful for the extra load of supplies but now the worry of not getting the truck on Monday was starting to set in. We were still needing a few key items. Richard completed the tv interview, they told him it would air later that night on the news. I was able to catch it during the 6:00pm newscast. He did an absolute fabulous job!!! I was so proud of him!!!!

We decided to go out to dinner that evening and the phone calls started coming in as we came back home…… Friends were calling Richard from other parts of the US- “hey, man I just saw you on the weather channel”. Evidently, a clip of his interview was picked up for national news!!! WOW!!!! We had friends who called from Las Vegas, & NY, who saw him on tv that evening.

Local weather forecasts predict at least a foot of ⛄️ snow!!!!

Saturday Morning:

Richard was at the store as usual, my routine was to finish my morning walk and then head into the store for the day. The storm was not going to set in until later in the day. On my morning walk, I suddenly received a call from Richard. He reported that a news clip of our store had just appeared on the Today Show! What on Earth!!!! We had made the national news for storm preparation for this upcoming “Snowpocalyse” !!!! AMAZING!!!  The day was full of talk and discussion of his appearance on the local/national news but, mostly folks were still winter storm prepping. Some folks thought it would amount to nothing, others were preparing for the “Snowpocalyse” .

By Sunday morning  December 9th, it was snowing like crazy. Richard and I were excited to see the snowfall. It had been several years since we had this much snow, and it was still coming down very fast. We went by to check on things at the hardware store around 10:00 am and I measured at least 14 inches and it was still snowing hard!!!! Yes, it was true, “Snowpocalyse”  had come to our hometown. It did take a few days for things to get back to normal. This is not normal amounts of snowfall for us here in Wilkes. There was so much snow, lots of it was dumped in Memorial Park parking lot so that the town could clear the streets. It took weeks for that “huge mountain of snow” to disappear!!!! It literally was a mountain of brown yucky snow!!!

By the way, our truck did roll through on that Monday, it was later than usual delivery time. We were extremely shocked and surprised that they were able to make it through, but very thankful. We survived the “”Snowpocalyse” , and learned that sometimes we think we have “nailed it” and are prepared for everything but then, things change- like the weather and we must adjust quickly and react to help those who need it.  This early December storm is still in our minds as Richard and I plan for weekly shipments/truck. Our discussions are always about being prepared and a having a healthy stock balance- it is truly hard to gauge… you can’t plan for a “Snowpocalyse”…