Nailing Things Down

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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.

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.

2020… “a year that will live in infamy”

As a retired history teacher, this day many years ago, was a watershed event in American history. Famously stated now by our former President, Franklin Roosevelt, “December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy-the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

How Americans lived and worked simply turned on a dime after this tragic day. America quickly entered into World War II and wartime life began.

My grandfather in his Navy uniform. He enlisted during WWII as a young man.

The significance of history sometimes makes me consider the present day… in 2020, our world has experienced one of those unique watershed events, fighting a pandemic.

No, we may not have sent troops into full combat across the globe to fight against tyranny. But for many folks, 2020 will be a year that will go down in “infamy “.

Those like my grandparents who were part of the Great Depression/WWII Era, were called the Greatest Generation, rightfully so, in my opinion.

Granny & Papa in their early years

The “Greatest Generation” was given the name by news anchor, Tom Brokaw. These folks contributed to war effort, fought in war, & helped however they could because it was the right thing to do. They also worked in war production plants, & rationed… yes, they sacrificed… they didn’t have the basic necessities so the troops could have them during the war. Meatless days, Wheatless days, no sugar, coffee, & gas rationing. What an amazing group of people who made our nation stronger! If you still have these folks in your life, hold them dearly in your heart & prayers each day.

Ration books, codes

What will history reveal about life in 2020 Pandemic Life??? Will it be a “Greatest Generation Scenario” where folks did everything they could??? Or will it be a more muddled view???

My mind goes back to the old Thomas Paine passage from the American Crisis, “ These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer solider and sunshine patriot will in times of crisis shrink, from the service of their country…”

2020 has brought trying times. No need to elaborate. People are struggling everywhere, sickness, quarantine, economic struggles, business closings… the list is long.

Thomas Paine wrote these words during the American Revolution. By the way, the word revolution, it is a synonym for change…. we talked a lot about this in history. It doesn’t have to be a “change” in governmental structure. Case in point, The Industrial Revolution- so much change occurred in our world during this time.

Think about how our lives have changed in 2020… new ways to teach students, working from home, zoom, curbside business, to go orders only at restaurants, the list is long and still changing daily. Life in 2020 has been revolutionary whether we realize it or not.

I must admit, at times, I wanted to shrink away and just go hide. The difficulties of 2020 have been relentless in my world. I would bet that we all have had those days… but 2020 experiences have made me a stronger person. I’m still here, working through different situations as they arise, one at a time, using friends & family and prayer as my anchors.

The revolutionary quote by Thomas Paine continues, “ but he who stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman”. In other words, we need to have strength to continue on.

Stay strong. Be safe. Practice social distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands. Follow the science. Do all the right things, like our grandparents did during WWII.

We are now experiencing some of the darkest times of the pandemic, our numbers seem to continue to rise more and more each day. Let’s end 2020 with Hope…. Such a small word, HOPE. The power it holds is mind boggling.

Quite mornings… beautiful sunrise always a beautiful way to begin a day… Hope springs anew

I leave you today with more words from the World War II Era, just like I began this blog post… Winston Churchill’s famous line from WWII, “we shall never surrender”. In the speech he gave, he told the people of his nation, “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields…” in other words, he told them, we are not giving up. We will press on… The “Greatest Generation”.

So I guess that could be a significant lesson for us today in 2020. Not giving up, always seeking answers, finding solutions to difficult problems. “Never surrender”. Go find your hope today.

Hope

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.

Strength

What a powerful word!!!! Do you consider yourself to be strong??? Where does “strength “ come from??? Is it internal??? External???

Strength can be defined as being physically strong or the capacity to withstand a great force or pressure.

Gandhi wisdom states that strength does not come out of the physical strength but from indomitable will.

Life in 2020 has tested the powers of strength for many people. Hardships of health, natural disasters, financial, and so many other areas have impacted folks in 2020.

My personal life chapter in 2020 brought unique experiences with loss. In the first 10 months of 2020, I have lost 3 family members, the most notable for me was the loss of my Granny. The family losses were compounded with the loss of 2 sweet pups- GiGi & Elvis. 😢😢😢😢

Granny loved to be outside, strawberry picking was always a special time spent together

Staffing changes has created a void in our lives as well. The loss of long time employees has brought distinctive sadness into our midst. Those personal losses have been extremely difficult to deal with adding in the flooding events from August/early September that made life more interesting.

Then add in financial challenges/supply chain issues of doing business during COVID… Honestly, the list could go on and on…

Store flooded after a significant downpour… the back parking lot drains were unable to direct water correctly and our neighbors beside us flooded. As a result, our store took on water as well from their flooding event😢

Reflecting back on this chapter thus far in 2020, I’m not sure quite how I survived so far. Obstacles have been overcome, & new ones continue to emerge daily… so how do we keep going???

What gives you strength in hard times??? Religion, quiet reflection- reading, nature walks, staying connected to friends & family. Pets??? Laughter??? Hopes & dreams of better days??? Is it a combination of all of these???

Beautiful weather to get outside to keep body strong and always good for my soul

Finding Strength in 2020 has been hard but I’m not giving up. My will is still strong. I draw strength from all of the areas I listed above… prayer, reflection, walks in nature, family support, laughter with friends, music, & dreams. So I guess you could say that I am drawing strength from many different areas.

Another area of strength for me has to be our customers & followers on social media platforms. You have given me strength to push on. Thank you for your kind words on our posts!!! Feedback, comments, likes, shares and those continued interactions on our Facebook & IG pages are much appreciated. The algorithms are powerful today and the more interaction we have on these platforms, the more present we can be on your personal feed to showcase new products, store updates, sales etc.

AND… When you arrive as a customer in our hardware store with familiar smiles😊, it brightens our day!!!! We love to see y’all shopping local. We need to keep the heart of the #wilcostrong movement going. We appreciate your continued support of local businesses in our community. The long term impact of shopping local will definitely be a stronger local economy.

In closing, finding strength& overcoming life’s obstacles in 2020 has been a ongoing challenge. Thank you for giving us strength to keep moving forward. I’ll be dreaming of better days ahead as I know many of y’all are too. So y’all Dream On!!!! 😉