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Born from a love of coffee and the desire to fulfill a need in the community, Joe Consford, owner of Hardware on the Square in San Augustine, Texas, added a coffee shop to the hardware store in October 2016.
“I love coffee, but there was no coffee shop in our town, so I decided to open one,” Consford says. “My dad and I watched videos on how to make coffee and would practice at home. We perfected our recipes and then built the coffee shop inside the hardware store.”
Consford says he found a coffee shop in Louisiana that was going out of business and bought its coffee equipment, setting it up in his garage at home to practice making coffee before opening up the coffee shop in the hardware store.
Not only does the hardware store offer coffee, it sells its cups of coffee for a bargain at 5 cents a cup.
“Our customers can sip on our custom-brewed coffee as they enjoy the historical atmosphere of our hometown hardware store,” Consford says. “It is a great place to sit and visit and enjoy a cup of joe.”
Paying It Forward for Prom
Whitmore Ace Hardware, which has 13 locations in Illinois, tragically lost a beloved employee, Melissa Michalowski, in a car accident in 2008. To honor and remember Melissa and her friend Crystal Carr, who also passed away in the accident, the operation started Melissa’s Closet and Crystal’s Jewelry Box. During the organization’s annual event, it outfits high school students with $5 prom dresses and inexpensive accessories, says Whitmore Ace Hardware marketing director Laurie Becker.
“Melissa came to work every day happy to be there, sharing her smile and positive attitude with everyone, and so we wanted to do something in Melissa’s memory,” Becker says. “A number of our employees expressed how expensive prom is and were asking to work more hours to be able to afford it, and the idea for Melissa’s Closet was born.”
The first event brought in 120 dresses and has grown to over 1,900 dresses, tons of accessories, hair and makeup lessons and a scholarship fund. During the event, which takes place in early spring, 80 to 100 volunteers set up the shop and help students choose dresses and pick out jewelry. To date, the event has dressed over 3,500 students for prom.
Community members and local stores donate dresses, shoes and purses. Students from the local Paul Mitchell School set up a beauty salon to do updos and makeup for free.
“It’s hard to explain what it’s like to experience this day and the joy it brings, not only to the students, but their parents,” Becker says. “This event makes life a little easier by cutting expenses for prom and brings us happiness to celebrate two beautiful girls who we miss greatly.”
The Perfect Pair
A part of the historic Cumberland neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, Cumberland Hardware has served the hardware needs of the community for over a century. The store is also home to two adorable furry employees. Store cats Oliver and Annie have been a part of the store for nearly two decades, welcoming customers and looking for pats on the head, says owners John and Sheila Varallo.
“Customers love Oliver and Annie, they are mainstays in the store,” John says. “They each have their own stools to lounge on, and in the cold months, we’ll put heating pads on their chairs to keep them extra cozy.”