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Thursday, January 27, 2011

INSIDE THE COX FAMILY HARDWARE -- WHERE OLD MEETS NEW IN A SMALL TOWN COMMUNITY

COX HARDWARE STORE


Martha spoke to me on the phone today telling me she is the last Cox of the family to run the Cox Hardware store. The year it opened its doors for business was 1907 -- 104 years ago. Martha's husband was the last in the line of four generations to keep the business running. 


People in town asked her after her husband passed last year if she was going to sell the place. She responded to them with, "no, I have fun running this old hardware store."  She told me that she has worked in the store for thirty years and is very familiar with its operation. I asked her if Cox Hardware was independent. She quickly answered, "a hundred percent independent!" 

ASSORTED ITEMS FOR SALE PLACED ON OLD SHELVES AND BENCHES


Cox Hardware is located on Main Street in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. It is a great store to find just what you need in the hardware line -- even one screw or two nails if that is all you need. Any questions -- someone is there to answer with a friendly smile. 

THE ORIGINAL OLD POT BELLY AND AN OLD SITTIN' BENCH


You can find newer types of paraphernalia here as well as the old. An example of an older type item would be oil lamps with chimneys and the oil to burn in  the lamps. Of course I can't list every new or old type of item that they carry as the list would be very long. 


It is a large hardware in an old brick storefront displaying lots of character with shiny original wood floors and antique items hanging or sitting around the store. Many of the cases and bins are original old  pieces. 

OLD HARDWARE BINS


At one time most small towns had a hardware store. Many have disappeared. Some say it is because of the influx of the big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot. But some family-owned hardware stores say that they are doing fine. They claim that their personal service and community attachments allow them to survive. They have met the challenge of having  the old ways remain while implementing some new practices. 

ONE OF MANY CASES TO HOLD STORE  ITEMS
Some small hardwares have become cooperatives, meaning they form as a group selling the products of a chain. And some have remained independent like Cox Hardware -- meaning running their own show. 

ANTIQUE GLASS DISPLAY CASES


Will the small town hardware stores survive? That is a question that can only be answered by the future.. 

22 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! I would dearly love to visit this store. It's amazing. These old relics have so much wonderful character and if those walls could talk... imagine all the stories told on that old bench next to the pot belly stove. Thank you Barbara for this great post.

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  2. What a neat place. Our best hardware store is our local family-owned store. It is a tiny shop with everything you need. Great, thanks for sharing!

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  3. Nice post! We are fortunate to have a similar old timey hardware store nearby.

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  4. Mama-Bug, A really fun place to visit and find unique items as well as the standard hardware. I have always had an affinity for perusing hardware stores. May they continue. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  5. Vicki -- Hopefully your hardware is still going strong. They are such personable places to find that certain screw, hook, or handle etc. -- barbara

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  6. I think hardware stores like this are such fun to poke around in, and this one has such wonderful character, too! Love the potbelly stove and old wooden cabinet drawers!

    I was in a hardware store in rural Alabama several years ago that looked almost identical (except for the potbelly stove), and was so entertained just browsing through all the merchandise. And you'll be pleased to know that the town we used to live in, Buffalo, WY, had an old family run hardware store that did well despite a chain hardware store moving in almost directly across the street, and our current nearby town of Sheridan also has an old family run hardware store (that has a great kitchen-wares section too) that doesn't seem to be affected by the chain stores either. The old ones are just more fun to shop in! I hope someone will come along to keep Cox's going after Mrs. Cox is gone.

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  7. Mary Ann -- Nice to hear your best hardware is your local family-owned store. Aren't they interesting places to investigate. Thanks -- barbara

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  8. Hi Barbara,
    We had one of those in the little town I grew up in, your photo's sure reminded me of it. My husband has family in Campbellsville and Knifley are you anywhere close to them?
    Thanks for sharing..
    ~Blessings~Ronda

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  9. Laloofah -- I agree that old hardware stores are great places to investigate. What is really good news to me is that the folks responding to this post are telling me that their local hardwares are going strong. Maybe its the nature of hardwares to give good service and have a handle on what the locals like to buy that is keeping them in business. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  10. Ronda I am not familiar with Campbellsville nor Knifley. I have only been here a little over three years -- I retired here. Perhaps I will eventually get around to the whole of Kentucky but for now I pretty much hang around Central Kentucky. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  11. Hi Barbara:

    Long live the independent small hardware store! We have several within 30 minutes driving distance from the farm and I try to patronize them whenever I can. Although their prices are usually higher than the big box stores, the customer service and advice they give is far superior, not to mention the fact that you keep you money local whenever you purchase from a local mom and pop business.

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  12. We still have an old hardward store on our town square. And, it is still operational. Gentleman still gather there to chit chat a few days a week.

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  13. There is an old hardware store in Cairo,WV. It looks very similar to this one. It is so neat and has all kinds of stuff in it that you are not used to seeing any more.

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  14. Janet -- Old hardware stores seem to have some items that are rarely found at the box stores. I think someone could write a book about old hardware stores if it hasn't been done already. Nice that you have one near you. -- barbara

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  15. OOHF -- I find the prices are a bit higher but heck look at the service you get. Also, I can always find that certain something I have been looking for but couldn't find elsewhere. Yes -- long live the the small independent hardware stores. Thanks for the comments --

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  16. Farmchick -- Like the idea that the men still congregate to exchange a few words. What great community spirit your old hardware store has. --- barbara

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  17. Oh-oh-oh! I have a thing for old fashioned hardware stores like this. Ones that have been there forever with creaky hardwood floors and bins of nails. Sigh.

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  18. Those bins and displays look inviting. It can be near impossible to find what you want in some of those huge box stores.

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  19. Tess -- I'm with you -- I can spend hours in old hardware stores that smell old, have a gentleman with vast stores of knowledge, and of course wood floors. -- barbara

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  20. Sheri -- the most irritating thing about big box stores is that the clerks don't have a clue about what you might need while a small hardware usually has someone with some hardware knowledge. -- barbara

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  21. What a wonderful store. Our independent hardware store here is modern in feel and content. I love your blog. It always makes me want to get in my car and head for Kentucky.

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  22. This is a fine article and the photographs are excellent. I was struck by the oiled floors, and doubt many know much about that nowadays. But our stores used to close down for a day or did it on the weekend -- mopped oil on the floor and let it soak in some before mopping it up or what came up when they went over it again. All of the stores did their floors the same way but I was too young to care to ask what kind of oil they used. I know it was black when it was first mopped on but when they mopped it off the floor wood shined like a new penny.

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