January

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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 break๐Ÿ˜ฌ, 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰, 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 us๐Ÿ˜‰!

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 ” โ›„๏ธ 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 โ›„๏ธ 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”…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Mishaps

I was driving down the road the other day and the song, “Holiday Road,  began to play. That song brings back the memories and the many laughs of the Clark Griswold movies.  One of our family favorites, has to be National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  I think that we can all recite lines from this movie, it is a classic. I began to think about all of the misadventures the Griswold family encountered throughout the movie and I giggled in the car as the song was finishing up.

My sequence of thinking then moved onto our own unique holiday mishaps and adventures. I guess we all have them, maybe not to the extreme as the movie played out. I hope that your upcoming holiday season is uneventful and blessed. Enjoy our holiday mishaps and adventures!!!! These are some of my favorite and most memorable….

Thanksgiving: In 2018, we had planned a trip to my parents for Thanksgiving. Everyone was excited about going- including my grandparents… my bags were all packed up and ready to go… as I went to bed that night, I experienced the worst pain I ever had in my entire life! It was a kidney stone:(    To say the least, the trip didn’t happen the next day. I ended up not being able to pass the kidney stone, it was lodged in my right kidney- it had to be surgically removed after the holiday passed.

Holiday turkey leftovers are always a challenge. What do you do with all those leftovers in your refrigerator in order to make them “fresh” again for your family? My mom had asked me to make a turkey casserole with our leftover turkey a few years back. I had whipped it out quickly using the same formula as the chicken casserole that our family loves. I placed the turkey casserole into a Pyrex glass baking dish. Boom, it would be done in time with all of the other leftover veggies, etc. We were all laughing, talking, working away in mom’s kitchen. I pulled the casserole out of the oven and began to let it cool before we ate. All of the sudden, the entire dish popped, glass was flying all over the kitchen. Lucky for all of us, no one was hurt. No turkey casserole for dinner- I think we all ate a ham sandwich.

Christmas:

Richard and I were so excited the first Christmas that we were homeowners. We had a beautiful older home with high ceilings. This would be the year that we were going to a choose and cut Christmas tree farm to purchase our tree. Normally, we just purchased a tree from a local spot in town in years past. The Christmas Tree Farm had simply beautiful trees!!! We selected a tree that believed to be around 10 feet high. Once the tree arrived at our house, the realization had begun to set in… our tree was 12/13 feet tall. How were we going to get it in the house??? We knew it would fit inside our home, but getting it upright and inside???? Richard ended up bracing the top limbs for safety reasons and securing it with fishing line, so it would not tip over.

As a young married couple, we had lights, ornaments, but not nearly enough!!! We hit Kmart hard- yep, we are that old folks… we had a Kmart. I still have some of those ornaments that we purchased almost 25 Christmases ago from Kmart in order to fill up our first gigantic Christmas tree. I smile each year those ornaments come out of the box and think of that first Christmas.  All of our beautiful Christmas cards went on our giant tree that year in order to fill in the gaps. Clark Griswold would have loved it, especially when Richard used the chainsaw to get it out of the house!!!!

Mom always wrapped our presents and sometimes did not put a name on them so that we ( my sister and myself) would not sneak into them before Christmas Day. She knew who was supposed to get which present. Isn’t that such a mom thing to know!!! Well, one year we went to our grandparents house for our yearly Christmas Eve dinner. Mom had the presents all ready for each person that night. When Granny opened up her gift, she opened up a pair of mens pants, those were supposed to be for my dad to open up on Christmas Day. Mom was a bit sheepish about the whole thing of course, but she had two snoopy little girls who loved to have hints of what was to come for Christmas Day.  So, Christmas morning came, Dad opened up Granny’s present and they did a switch around gift…. Later on that day when dad was getting rid of boxes and taking them out to the wood stove,  my sister was searching for one of her gifts, but it was already too late… it was in the stove… of course, it was replaced, but mishaps happen.

Happy Holidays to all!

 

 

 

 

 

“The Chicken Ghost”

The tale I am about to unravel goes back way in history to the beginnings of our store… well actually before it was a hardware store. The original building was constructed in the late 1800’s and was burned in a fire. The owners rebuilt and instead of a wooden structure, they replaced it with brick, our current building today.ย  In the early 1900’s, our building was known to all the Wilkes local folks as EE Eller Produce. Mr. Eller was a major poultry processing “plant” where local folks would bring in chickens, and turkeys for processing. The processed animals were loaded up on the Railroad tracks just down the street. It was a major operation that farmers routinely made their journey into North Wilkesboro. I have been told that over 1 million chickens and turkeys were processed in year!!!! Now that you have just a bit of historical background information about our building, our story can officially begin. Here we go…

A few years back during the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival we had a gentleman who was visiting with us in the hardware store and he began to tell us about his experiences inside our old, historic store…. this gentleman had spent some time with our neighbor next door and he stayed in his “man cave”. Our neighbor had let this man stay in his “man cave” for a few months until he could figure out where he wanted to go and what direction life would take him next. This gentleman said that he would often wake up around 2 am. He reported that he regularly heard at night chains dragging across the floor and sounds of chickens. He never could see or find anything unusual once he went to investigate. This man then continued with his story, by stating “now I know all of this is true because I am a reincarnated Buddhist, Catholic, priest, I can sense that things happened here”. Our conversation moved to other topics and we of course were super busy in the mix of Apple Festival Day and we all laughed about the story the man told us that day and continued on with our business.

Sometimes when the shopkeepers bell rings without an apparent reason, we always joke, “it must be the chicken ghost” going back to the gentleman’s story on Apple Festival. Lots of times we think it is the wind catching the door, elevation change of the door position, etc. We can usually explain it away….

Now, I”ll share this piece of information with you as well… we have had a few paranormal/ghost hunters to come into our store to ask if they could set up after hours. They thought it would be a great location and the paranormal activity was showing up on equipment. We have always declined the request of these folks.

The last aspect of our story goes back to the blog post that I did a few weeks ago entitled “Messy Monday”, it was one of those very busy days and our cash register/credit card machine were not working-via no internet plus we had lots of other factors playing into that day that made it a very long and hard day.ย  After supper,ย Richard went back to the store that night to try to make sense of the day, clean up somewhat, etc. He did not get back home until after 10:30 pm that night— here is what he told me the following day. “I was standing near the front cash register looking down at something and all of the sudden I heard a huge SLAM sound on the front doors, ironically, the shopkeeper bell never moved.” He then continued by saying that heย looked up because he just knew someone was outside possibly walking a dog on the street or someone had run into the front door from the outside… it was dark of course but nothing had alarmed or signaled on the cameras at the front door. He could see no one or nothing alarming.ย  Could it be the “chicken ghost”???? I suspect it could be “fowl play”.ย  ย Happy Halloween to all!!!

 

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 ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ. 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! ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ

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 ๐ŸŽgoers 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 ๐Ÿช 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 ๐ŸŽ 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 โค๏ธ to see the streets packed with people and activity. Are you ready for the Apple Festival??? ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ๐ŸŽ

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!!!

 

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ American Flags, โ€œwe remember…โ€

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”…