For years I’ve been able to watch the Christmas time of year through the eyes of a retail hardware store owner in Waynedale. But I started 43 years ago as a teenager that swept the floors and cleaned the bathroom in dad’s store. Christmas sure has changed inside these 4 walls over all those years..
In the 60s when I was just a kid we had a toy department during the holidays. I still remember playing with the Strombecker race track that my dad, Dwight, and his crew had set up just for the Christmas season. For years we had a giftware department that my dad had completely built from scratch in the whole front corner of the store. My mom, Marilyn, would travel far and wide to gift shows to pick exactly the right items that would make that giftwares section the talk of Waynedale. I remember beautiful displays with glass shelves that held glassware, bakeware, and appliances. Easy access to K-Marts, Walmarts, Toys-R-Us, and malls were not to be found. Our local hardware store was as far as some people would travel to fill their Christmas needs.
I ran into a customer the other day that said in 1948 his father bought him a pellet rifle for Christmas from my grandfather, Lester, at our old store a block west of where it is now. I think it was in the late 70s that we introduced the first cordless screwdriver as the latest and greatest Christmas gift. It was about as big around as a tennis ball and about a foot and a half long. And everybody thought it was about the craziest thing they ever saw. I think we sold 3 and 1 was returned!
We may no longer sell toys and giftwares, but we are selling memories just like we did decades ago. About a week ago, I found an elderly gentleman standing at our pocket knife display just studying every knife that we had. His eyes just lit up when he spotted just what he was after. His grandson had just turned 16 and the young man’s parents had given grandpa the OK to get him his first pocket knife. Just like his grandfather had done for him. Then there was the lady that found the electric window candles that reminded her of her childhood home. And it looks like we will be delivering a new Weber grill to somebody’s deck just before Christmas. She said her husband will really be surprised. That’s Christmas in Waynedale through my eyes!
Hopefully you don’t mind me drifting away from my normal type of article about weeds, bugs, paint and walnuts. You’ll see that again next month. I just wanted to reminisce a bit and share a small portion of what it has been like to be at the helm of this great family business in the great town of Waynedale during this wonderful time of the year.
From myself, my family, and the entire team here at Umber’s Do It Best Hardware, we hope your Christmas holiday is filled with family, friends, laughter, good food and the giving to others. And not forgetting the true meaning of this blessed day, celebrating Jesus’ birth.
Umber’s Do It Best Hardware