Leila Crockett has worked for the same hardware store in Idaho for 50 years.
It was about time to party.
“On my recent anniversary, the store invited the town in to help celebrate. I got lots of presents from TAL Holdings and I even got a gold hammer from Do it Best and from Estwing. I was overwhelmed.”
Some store history: The Crockett family started the hardware store in Orofino, in 1928.
“That little store took on a lumber yard and moved locations in 1958. That is the store that Leila Crockett started work in,” said Ian Stemrich, manager of Best Built Builders, a Do it Best dealer.
The Crockett’s went on to own four other building supply and hardware stores in Idaho and built their new store. They service Orofino, Grangeville, Kamiah and Lewiston along with many outlying towns.
Leila Crockett and her husband bought out his father in the early 1970s after rebuilding from the fire that destroyed the business.
“In 1972 my husband asked me to come in and help with various things, but I had a baby so was taking some time off, when he begged me to come to work full time. I mainly did the bookkeeping responsibilities,” she said.
Having a love of working with people, she said, “I did more with sales and I became the expert in selling metal roofing.”
She still works with the contractors to this day.
“They all call me the ‘Tin Lady.’ It wasn’t easy gaining the trust of them since I was a woman.”
50 years in hardware
From across five decades at her business, Crockett shared some of her favorite stories about customers.
“A long time ago when women wore dresses and nice shoes to work, a contractor called and ordered from me a skid of rebar. We didn’t have any and it was before cell phones so I went to the jobsite to tell him that it would be there first thing in the morning dropped off by our supplier,” she said.
“As I walked through the mud up to my knees. He came screaming and cussing toward me telling me he needed it first thing. I got right back in his face and yelled back at him.
“He stopped and looked at me and asked if he was being a jerk and I replied, ‘Yes and you are really good at it.’ When I got back to the store there were flowers for me from my favorite jerk and we became fast friends.”
Another time, she said, the store was having a customer appreciation BBQ.
“I was telling everyone that no one would be able to ruffle my feathers that day, I was going to be nice all day.
“This one contractor turned sculptor said he would believe it when he saw it. The day arrived and he was one of the first contractors I saw. He did everything he could to push my buttons and make me curse at him but all I did was smile and say, ‘that’s nice.’
“I was busy doing something and he came up behind me and planted a big kiss right on my mouth. I turned around cussing at him and he just smiled and said, ‘I won.’
“He is also the one who came into the store with his wife. He had a real scraggly beard and I looked at him and said, ‘You look like a Brillo pad with eyes.’ His wife called me later happy because he had shaved,” said Crockett.
Everyone in town knows Leila is an animal lover.