May the 4th be with you… I mean the workforce

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It would be easy to say that the way we work has changed significantly since Covid-19’s impact. Many people never stopped working during the shutdown, some temporarily worked for home, and others transitioned to full time work at home. Those in the skilled trades were considered essential workers, and their business boomed.

During Covid, it is my belief that the importance of Skilled Trade careers became appreciated, and valued by a larger population. Some might even say that these Skilled Trade careers are going to be “recession” proof… These careers will always be needed.

Elevator technician, Plumbers, Electricians, Welders… and many more career opportunities

But really… aren’t all careers important??? I never have understood why some people place more “value” on some careers than others. We all have value and worth in what we do. No stigma should ever be attached to any job or career path we choose.

Handcrafted woodworking

Today, May 4th is National Skilled Trades Day. This is observed annually on the first Wednesday in May. National Skilled Trades Day was established in 2019 by City Machine Technologies in Youngstown, Ohio. The purpose of the holiday was to raise awareness about the importance of skilled trades workforce in the United States, honor skilled trade workers, and also to create awareness about the skilled trades deficit in the United States.

Skilled trades are the individuals we call to repair our cars, complete complex electrical tasks, do plumbing repairs, build our homes, collect our blood, and ensure the health of our pets.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US will need close to 4 million skilled laborers to replace the nearly 8 million lost from the labor force during the pandemic. The pandemic created a significant labor shortage, and many Baby Boomers who left the skilled work force industries have chosen not to return. Some opted for early retirement rather than returning into the skilled workforce. Boomers are ready & waiting for a new generation to step into the skilled trades workforce.

For those highly skilled workers in trades such as welders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and others, the rate of pay is actually higher on average than college graduates. This rate of pay could grow as the demand for these trade careers increase.

So how do we move to filling the gap in trade based careers ??? The answer is simple in my opinion. We need to talk about it and find solutions. Educators, parents, grandparents, and community leaders, this is a discussion about educating our younger generations about ALL options they have available for career paths.

Beautiful handcrafted items are definitely part of our cultural heritage and legacy of trade based skills

Trade based careers offer a more specialized approach to learning in a specific field, ie plumbing or electrical. The overall cost of a trade based education is significantly less. The time involved in the training can be completed in one to two years versus college, 4 years or more depending on the educational path that is chosen.

College education is great, but every student may not be in the right mindset for university level learning or ready for the debt that it could bring into their future. It sure could save a lot of time, money, and heartbreak by exploring all career options if your teen is not ready for college.

Did you know that student loan debt is the second largest consumer debt factor for many Americans? Mortgage debt ranks first in the consumer debt category.

Student loan debt is estimated at $1.75 trillion with the US federal government holding 92 percent of the debt in student loans.

Approximately 43.4 million people in US have student loan debt(this equates to 1 in 8 Americans). This to me is a heavy dose of information… 😳asking a lot of a young person to tackle… finding a career, paying the student debt, management of family bills and more! Wow!!!

Ultimately, all a parent wishes for their children to have in their chosen career path is happiness, success, financial freedom & security. Right??? Laying out all possibilities in future potential careers today seems to me to be the responsibility of parents, educational staff & other stakeholders in the lives of children.

In closing, isn’t the key to success in a career this… finding what you are passionate about and not treat it as just a job you go to everyday???? Just a thought.

Thanks for reading y’all

Eunoia… beautiful thinking

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“Balance is something we create, not find”.

Eunoia ( yoo- noy-uh) is the Greek word for “beautiful thinking”, or well balanced thinking. My word of intent for 2022 is Balance. Words of intent are always a work in progress, unlike resolutions which by the end of January sometimes seem unreasonable, or unrealistic . It is hard to believe that the end of January is already here!!! How are y’all doing with your yearly goals/intentions so far???

Balance means doing enough, not everything.

Is balance not the key in everything we do or don’t accomplish??? When things are in “balance” your internal rhythm is strong, & when it is “off”, it can be problematic.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

Creating your own personal awareness of the balance in life… in all categories, such as…family, work, rest, health, & all other things can create growth. Growth & achieved balance in 2022, good intentions for 2022. 😊

A Prayer For Balance
Dear Lord,
I come to you in realization that my life is unbalanced. I know that I can achieve balance through you, so I come to you humbly asking for help in creating balance in my life.
Please help me in creating you as the priority & everything else will fall into place.
Give me the strength to say “no” when life calls me to, and not to just add something to my to do list.
Give me the peace to handle life when it feels disorganized & chaotic. Seeking you first for
peace & organization that brings everything back together.
Help me remember that I can’t do it all, but I can do what you have called me to do for your purpose.
Amen.

A look back at 2021…

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It’s hard to believe that 2022 is on the horizon!!! Here’s a glimpse of some of the new products & ideas we have brought into our hometown hardware store inside Wilkes County Hardware in 2021.

Premixed paint arrived on our shelves in January of 2021!!!
People just can’t enough of these!!!
These appeared in early spring months and sold out quickly
Amazing new BBQ sauces… made in NC
We opened our new pop up shop at Carolina Treasures on Main in 2021!!!
Expanding our line of Zep Cleaning products. Great stuff y’all
Added Black Wonder into our gardening line in 2021. Made locally in NC.
In 2021, we added a few new products to keep your furniture looking great.
Located at the front counter… just in case
Keegan’s cutting boards have been a huge hit in 2021!!! Thanks again for supporting local 💕
New shirt in 2021 in remembrance of Harry & our iconic wood stove
Beautiful handmade baskets inside our store all year long!!! These sell out quickly y’all!
Keys… a staple item of what we do well each & every day 😊
Beautiful hanging baskets, locally grown sold out quickly for Mother’s Day
This stuff y’all!!! Another great locally sourced item added into our store lineup in 2021. Amazing!!!
Local pottery pieces now available in 2021!!! Unique finds & treasures
As always, y’all continue to shop local with us to find your favorite Meyers Clean Day scents
The Big Easy Rocker has been a great selling item in 2021
Thankful that so many of our customers use the flag drop off box in 2021.
These products are fantastic!!! North Carolina based company and repelling animals in a safe way!!!
Y’all needed these and we had them!!!
Great sellers in the summer of 2021
Y’all asked for more organic/earth friendly products in our lawn & garden line and we added several in 2021
Keep odor off your hands in the kitchen with this locally made soap
Kuduz jelly & sauces have been flying off the shelves!!! A must try!!
Keegan added pens 🖊 into his woodwork line
Fall y’all.. thus was a huge hit
New in 2021!
Now in stock!!!
Added new food products from NC based company as the holidays grew closer
Happy Frog candles… y’all couldn’t get enough of these during the holidays season… more to come in 2022!
Good for any meal!!!
Good for all metal cleaning… we got y’all covered
Local honey… with comb & without!!! Local granola & more!!!
Did you know that we are on Instagram, Facebook & now Tik Tok ???
Live music!!! I hope y’all didn’t miss it during the holidays season…
Stove pipe, wood stove products & gloves are essential as the cooler weather sets in
New in December of 2021!!!
You are the nuts & bolts of what we do each & every day. Thank you for your support in 2021 & moving into 2022. Happy New Year!!!
Happy New Year from our family to yours !

Stories…Our Legacy

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A view from our town, a picturesque view. A story via photography

My last blog post commanded attention from my readers who connected with my story about Waiting.

My last blog post entitled, Waiting… featured photo

The messages sent to me were powerful, with beautiful scriptures, kind words & your personal stories of experience made my heart melt.

So many people who have battled cancer that I connect with everyday as a business owner reached out. Their stories they shared with me were amazing & a beautiful blessing. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with me.

If you haven’t read the blog post, Waiting, I would love for you to click back and give it a read. We all go through periods of waiting in life. Waiting on test results, waiting for changes in a career path, or just waiting patiently on God to show you a pathway.

All paths in life are not clearly defined… many times we wait for clarification and direction

As I said before, my experience was not unique, but I chose to share it because I felt it would create common ground experience for many ladies who have walked in the path of waiting for test results OR seeking answers to any type of situation/problem.

Writing is a dynamic way to connect with others. As a blogger, that influence extends across our community & even across the globe.

Storytelling goes well back into history. In the days before novels & books, stories were shared orally, musically or artistically and passed down through the generations. Stories help us to keep our past history alive, & keep us linked together.

Philadelphia, full of historical stories

I had a professor in college who was a gifted storyteller. US History was revealed to me as a story of events & the people behind it.

As an educator, the most powerful thing you can do is to connect your content to the student. Once the student gets the practical connections, the path learning is much easier.

Often as a hardware store owner, we are privy to a portion of a person’s story. The struggle of a DIY, pool ownership (the good, bad, & the ugly 😂) and even the success of a beautiful garden.

All are welcome

The longer Richard & I have been in downtown North Wilkesboro, the more folks we have had the opportunity to meet & get to know a small portion of their story.

Many stories are told around this wood stove

This week we met a gentleman who came by for a few keys, & he stayed to visit for a while. His story began to unravel. He told humorous stories which all made us laugh. He also revealed that his wife died this summer, she had a serious form of blood cancer.

My heart hurt for him. It was obvious he missed her tremendously. Once he told us his story, we understood more about him, his needs and empathized with his current situation.

So how do we share our unique life experiences in 2021??? We are all not bloggers, writers, gifted musicians, artists, or storytellers.

Do you look at Instagram stories???? OR Facebook stories, Snapchat, or even Tik Tok??

In the world of social media, we now have these little bits of video & images on our profile page called stories. The intent of those images is to give the viewer a quick glimpse of what is going on the “inside”of the life of that specific social media page.

After 24 hours those stories disappear and you must continue to add more of your own images in order to keep your story going.

Stories give us a way to stay connected to friends and family. A way to share triumphs, celebrations, fun times, sweet moments & even sad events in our lives. All are a significant part of living our lives.

Many of us are not public speakers who go across the country sharing their stories with others creating change. You may not be gifted storyteller OR even post out Facebook/IG stories everyday.

Your personal story & experiences create change just by sharing!!! Do you journal everyday? Share your family stories with younger generations???

We all share our life experiences with others… how are you sharing your story???

Our life stories cause us to adjust, change, & can create empathy for others who have faced similar experiences.

What I have learned as a blogger is that you should not be afraid to share your story. Your personal story creates bridges to others… connectedness. If you don’t tell your own story now, someone else will later…

Our personal story is why we are here. Your experiences could become a survival guide for someone else who is struggling with the same thing.

My wish for you… find a creative outlet for your unique personal story.

Go tell your story, inspire & encourage others.

Nailing Things Down

Six years ago we began our journey into hardware store ownership. It was an exciting time, a plan was emerging from our minds on what we envisioned happening in our new business.

Wilkes County Hardware store front

Our official name became Wilkes County Hardware. Many folks still refer to us as Wilkes Hardware and wonder where Harvey is… lol he hasn’t owned the hardware store for many years. Gerald Lankford owned the store for 10 years before selling it to us. Harvey was the owner before Gerald.

Gerald Lankford, the former owner and dear friend

Gerald stayed with Richard for the first year so that he could learn all aspects of the business, including the pools.

Richard became a quick study of how to care and do maintenance on pools

The first year is still pretty much a blur… we decided to add a point of sale computer system instead of a basic cash register so that inventory could be monitored closely, & new fixtures went in. A major highlight of year one was the filming of our hardware store on NC Public TV.

Richard completely set up all these fixtures and began to move merchandise, key desk was also moved closer to back door

In the next few years, we added staff, continued to add new products into our lineup. One neat find inside our walls … when we opened up a space near the front entrance and found two doors that had been covered up for many years with pegboard. The captions that follow along with the pictures will chronicle the rest of our story.

These double doors had been covered in pegboard for many years!!!
Lawn & Garden items were dramatically expanded into the next few years of business ownership
Apple Festival… new hours for us we are open all day during the festival. The store used to close early on Apple Festival Day.
Logo gear was added to our hardware store… it all started with this original design
Added new locally based products into our store… these are best sellers around holiday time
The wood stove is always going strong on cold winter days… and folks love to stop by and warm on snowy days
The largest snowfall we have had since store ownership has been 16inches !!! Richard’s news clip from WXII made it onto the Today show
Need a great grill??? We are sold on Traeger grills
Dog friendly hardware store
Our customers love this potting soil
Keegan’s first pieces arrived at Wilkes County Hardware
Amazing new line of bird seed was added that our customers keep coming back for more and more..,
Here’s our first Meyers display… customers come from all over in order to purchase from our vast selection
Straight shot from back to front door… it took several years to get there but we are getting there as we still work on organizing
Always & everyday..,
A list of our hometown hardware store services
We love you always 💕
This small display is no longer found at our front door… the entire front is open now and wow!!! What a difference it makes!!!
Expansive selection of fasteners
Our hours were updated and changed to close each day at 5:30, so our customers could swing by and shop as they are on way home & still pick up essentials. We still currently close at 2pm on Saturday
Last day of school… retirement as a teacher begins and a new role as a full time hardware store owner begins…
The same view of the store captured in a series of two pictures
Ceiling fans installed
Harry’s Hot Dogs Event was an amazing success
Wayne is truly a key master… folks still come into the store just to have keys made by him
Keegan’s work has progressed into bigger and fabulous designs
Made in McGrady is an multi-talented husband & wife team, we keep their pieces in our store.
A favorite local WCH hat… deeply rooted into our store history
Wilkes County Honey, locally sourced!!!
COVID created an interesting time for small businesses to operate under. We are appreciative of your support
Teamwork with Cooks, the #wilcostrong initiative raised money for our community-Samaritan Kitchen
Locally sourced granola
The most devastating day in our ownership so far…
Customer rewards have been a huge success and the checkout process is easy & safe
A unique variety of locally sourced products
A paint line was added in early 2021
We continue to add to our logo gear… short sleeve, long sleeve, and sweatshirts
BBQ sauce that is absolutely delicious!!!
In 2021, Wilkes County Hardware launched a booth inside Carolina Treasures Antique Mall
We sell local pottery, each piece is handmade & unique
Locally sourced soaps!!!
Our drop off flag box is consistently full now that our customers realize what it is for.
We are so excited to begin another year of service in our community. Thank you for shopping with us at your favorite hometown hardware store, Wilkes County Hardware.