What is one of the most popular activities among Warren County residents trying to cope with ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Norlina Hardware’s Judy Hayes would tell you that the answer is planting a garden. Considered essential for providing supplies people need to fix things around their homes, the business never closed as a result of the novel coronavirus. And customers never stopped coming in for help finding products ranging from nails to chicken feed.
“There has been no dropoff,” Hayes said. “We are busier than ever. I guess people are (staying) home fixing things up.”
The Norlina Hardware building has been the site of a hardware store for more than 100 years and was previously known as Traylor’s Hardware. Hayes, a Warren County native, was working as a bookkeeper at the Rose’s corporate office in Henderson when Bob Traylor, who was managing the family hardware store, called to ask Hayes if she would consider becoming the store’s bookkeeper. Hayes began working at Traylor’s in 1993, and, on Jan. 1, 1997, took over management following Traylor’s retirement.
Garden seed has been a hot commodity this spring and summer, Hayes said. Customers can choose between butterbeans, watermelon, beets, carrots, cucumbers, squash, peas and other vegetable and flower seeds.
If you ask for seeds, Hayes will likely pull them from jars dating from earlier times in the life of the hardware store. She can weigh them on scales also dating from yesteryear.
Seeds for cool weather plants, including turnips, arrived recently.
As one might expect, fertilizer is also a top seller.
“We are keyed to the weather and seasons as to what we sell,” Hayes said.
Also popular are baby chicks, which Hayes can order for customers from Hoover Hatchery of Iowa. She estimates that she sold 251 baby chicks since April.
Hayes began taking customer orders for chicks about four years ago, when people began saying that they had to drive out of the county to find them. Norlina Hardware also sells a variety of chicken feed.
Hayes can share advice and stories about raising her own chickens at her home. She now has 37 chickens, Isa Browns and Silver Laced Wyandottes.
Back at the store, Hayes also sells supplies for horses and dogs, hog feed and deer corn.
To work on a farm or in the garden, you have to have the right shoes. Norlina Hardware offers Red Wing shoes, which come in a number of styles. However, Hayes said that the most popular are the work boots.
The store also offers handles for repairing hoes, shovels and rakes, as well as walking sticks and canes. A number of the walking sticks and canes carry artistic designs.
Hayes also can order guns. She carries other supplies that one would expect to find at a hardware store: caulks, fishing supplies, tools and paint accessories.
Supplies like nails are stored in bins and weighed on scales from Traylor’s Hardware. “The scale inspector has said that I have the oldest scales he has inspected,” Hayes said.
A calendar hanging near the store’s entrance has become a conversation piece. Found in Bob Traylor’s office, it is dated 1974, the year that Hayes’ son, Jamie, was born.
People come from as far away as Henderson, Raleigh and Virginia to shop at Norlina Hardware, and Hayes will be ready to help them, providing a little Warren County hospitality for local residents and visitors to the area alike.
Norlina Hardare, at 129 Hyco St., Norlina, is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays. For more information, call 252-456-2351.