A Flood of Memories

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This past week marks a year of the flooding of our hardware store, August 13, 2020. I just realized that I never shared any pictures or stories on my blog about that day.

The afternoon had proved to be uneventful. We had a sudden downpour of rain. It lasted for several minutes. What we didn’t realize was that the drains in the back parking lot couldn’t keep up with the tremendous amount of rain that was coming down.

Our neighbors at Wilkes Lock Service were gone on a service call, which was not unusual. Their building was locked up. As the water continued to rise, the back door was pushed open by the flowing water.

The water was rising quickly and was knee high inside the lock shop before we were able to get through the heavy metal door that separates our businesses. It was blocked with debris and we were not able to keep the water from flooding into our business.

Water came up to the bottom of the fixtures, any higher and we would have lost significantly more merchandise

Panic set in. Water was everywhere. What could be moved easily and salvage??? In a stroke of luck I grabbed Richard’s computer bag. He had dropped it earlier in the day and left it behind the checkout counter before the water hit hard in that area.

We were extremely lucky that the water didn’t impact our technology, we pushed water away from here first
Water… everywhere!!!
Our wooden ladder wall took some time to dry out, luckily that the water level wasn’t too high

Our staff was few… Richard had left to run an errand. One quick phone call brought him back instantly. I’m very thankful for Luke… he came in from his day off and began dealing with the lock shop front door to release the rising water.

Check out the water line on the lock shop front door… the white line marks the water line 😬

The next few hours are still a blur. Friends rallied to help us. We all worked late into the night pushing water outside our doors, running a buckets from the empty elevator shaft to the front door. Fans & dehumidifiers were set up strategically in order to efficiently dry our floors and everything else.

We opened our doors to our customers the next day. It wasn’t a normal day, but our customers were kind and gracious.

The storms of this past week brought a lot of anxiety about this past experience. But there are some things we don’t have control over… flooding, tornadoes, etc. It is a hard reality when it is your livelihood & business.

So in closing, I’ll share an update on progress… Usually during every major rain storm, the town street department swings by to check on the drains. Thankfully, we have been very blessed without any breakthrough water issues. And this past May, the town has completed a major project at our back door to help the flow of water.

I’m deeply humbled. Our friends rallied to help us in a dire situation. We receive phone calls from a very kind individual every time it rains for an extended period of time. Our customers drop by to check to see if our store is ok after a hard rain.

The flood of emotions are real… it is still close to our memory… every heavy rain storm we worry still …but the kindness of our community has been an amazing gift.

Logistics

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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.

Working together

Working with your spouse… could you do it everyday??? 🙃😉

5 years ago we just started… Richard and I launched ourselves into hardware store ownership.

I continued to work full time as a teacher until 2019. Then the transition of working together 24-7 began.

At times, this new venture into business ownership was uncertain, scary, and exciting all wrapped up into the same 5 gallon bucket of emotions.

We both have different and unique roles in what we do at Wilkes County Hardware. And… we are continuing to develop our best skills and talents that we can offer to YOU. We share responsibilities, & work through the difficult decisions together. Together… yes, we do work closely together, and we have survived & thrived.

Our goals are shared & our commitment is strong to serve our local community. I’m so glad y’all have been a great big part of our journey. If you are a new follower, Welcome!!!!

 As I look back, reflecting upon our WHY… In other words, WHY DO WE DO WHAT WE DO at Wilkes County Hardware???

The answer is simply YOU!!! Our customers are our driving force. We are so blessed to have formed many new friendships and made connections with our customers to help meet their needs. I’m also blessed to work with my spouse each and every day.

We always look forward to your visits into Wilkes County Hardware. Y’all have become our hardware family 💕and welcome new folks regularly into our midst.

The WCH shopping experience is unique in comparison to other hardware stores. We do our best to give one-on-one service to our customers so y’all can get what is needed in a timely fashion.

WCH is not the big box… just wander around to see the difference. Our historic exterior/interior will let you know immediately that you are stepping into a different shopping experience.

Thank you for being our WHY each and everyday. We are so glad to be there to help you with your hardware store needs. I bet you will find both us there… working together to serve our local community.

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

Expectations and Grace

Expectations & Grace

Recently, I was watching an old episode of Happy Days. In this specific episode, Howard Cunningham came home from work (owning a hardware store) and I was stunned to remember that he wore a 3 piece suit to work everyday!!! I actually did a double take… thinking to myself, “is this for real???”

Richard was not home, and once he arrived, the first thing I hit him with was my immediate reflection from that past episode. He kinda chuckled and we both giggled at the absurd thought of Richard or I dressing the same way for a day of work at our Hardware store.

Our dress is always casual and we dress for the weather… hot or cold. Typical day of work could mean exposure to, “100 year old dust”, kerosene, pool chemicals, and of course our wood stove is active in the winter. It just wouldn’t be practical to wear a 3-piece suit. Our customers would not “expect” to see our staff dressed that way. Expectations…. here are some thoughts on this subject today….

Expecting a specific outcome usually leads to disappointment… who has had that experience?? All of us right??? Our minds are powerful objects which can “project expectations” upon people and events. Other times, we can even create our own heartbreak through our own expectations.

Regardless of the circumstances,

I have had “expectations” placed upon me as a woman working in our hardware store. As a full-time owner now, I have encountered this more times than I ever wished would happen.

Some folks who maybe first time customers, enter the store, then I welcome them, and they immediately look for a male employee to help them, with the “expectation” that I can not find what they need. Here are three typical outcomes of customer interactions in our store when these “projected expectations” are visible….

1. Customer pleasantly surprised to see that I can get what they requested.

2. Unsure of where potential item is located( as a side note- we have so many different types of products… I’m still learning what is actually inside this very old hardware store!!!!)so I may go ask where something is located, and I can then, go get what the customer needs. If the item is unavailable, we send our customer with ideas to try next… recommendations of other local spots to find that specific product .

3. On occasion, the request is such a specialized item that I do turn the customer over to another staff member- who has vast knowledge in a specific area to assist them.

Sometimes the reactions from the customer/ regardless of their gender, is overall pleasant interactions. The “expectation mold” is shattered like a key “unlocking a new mindset “.

So why is this a problem today??? Do we have these preconceived notions/expectations about how people should be based on what they do???? Or how they will react???

I will be perfectly honest, I’m a little stumped by “old mindsets” / expectations. Has giving/showing grace to others regardless of what is “expected from them” gone by the wayside???? Is this mindset rooted in past experiences???? Hmmm… I wonder how life would be so different if we all used this philosophy of showing grace in all circumstances???? So what is grace???

Grace is defined as an exhibition of kindness, mercy, favor disposition to benefit or serve another. The older I become, the more I think these two things should go together… expectations/grace.

Let’s develop this concept a little bit further. As an educator for 25 plus years, the education world spends a lot of time talking about expectations: specifically, setting high expectations of students equal more learning opportunities.

I always wanted my students to do their very best. As a teacher, “expectations”(standards for learning) of my students were consistent and high. I also tried to exhibit grace and kindness on days students were having an “off day”. But that did not mean the standards of learning were less. We were always working together to achieve that nice balance of expectations vs. grace.

So I am wondering, the balance of expectations vs. grace is this a life learning experience???? Are we up to the challenge????