The boy, the book and the hardware

Jarratt Hardware held an event – and then a surprise showed up.
Jarratt Hardware team
Jarratt Hardware, family and team shown here, offers customers a unique experience all their own.

Owners of hardware stores hold events during the year. It’s a way to reach out to their communities.

But recently, there was something additional at one hardware store: Something not in the script.

It happened at Jarratt Hardware, a Do it Best dealer in a small rural town of the same name, located south of the James River in a region known locally as Southside Virginia.

“What happened?” You ask.

....First some background.

The population of Jarratt is about 800. It has big box stores located 30 miles in all cardinal directions.

Husband and wife co-owners Andy and Alexis Jones pride their business model on customer service.

“We strive to ‘touch’ every customer and provide for any need they have that can be provided by our store,” said Alexis Jones.

They rely on the flexibility to meet customer needs, even if that means, “home delivery, a trip to a distributor’s facility to obtain product, or a trip to our store after hours to provide for a customer’s needs.”

Running this family hardware business is all about division of labor.

“My husband Andy is the owner and manager of our store,” said Alexis, who goes by Lexi, “investing more than six days per week at the store facility handling orders, customer inquiries, equipment repairs, scheduling, planning, and more.”

Alexis works full time away from the store but serve as event planner and marketing lead.

Their three boys, Mason, Levi and Silas, each have their special place at their store, she said.

“Mason leads in learning equipment repair and building. Levi excels in customer service. Silas, our youngest, well, he enjoys hiding under the register and grabbing people’s feet when they approach the door or playing jokes with our staff.”

It’s most certainly a family business, “and couldn’t be more perfect for a family raising all boys in rural Virginia.”

Jarratt Hardware three sons in the book
Andy and Alexis Jones’ three sons, Mason, Levi and Silas, pictured here, help in their family business.

Family and events

Now about their event.

“We hold a spring and fall event each year focused on customer and community recognition,” said Lexi.

These events enable Jarratt Hardware to show appreciation to their customers and community, “for they are the reasons our doors remain open,” said the owners.

Each event is focused on inside and outside activities at their store, for the youth and the community to enjoy as well as product and store awareness. The events include giveaways, free lunch and treats, and a community favorite, Richlands Dairy ice cream.

Event opportunities over the past three years under their ownership have included: Kayaking, water safety, youth archery, wildlife rehabilitation, and much more.

Each year, the business partners with various groups such as the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Virginia Cooperative Extension - 4H, local beekeepers and fishermen.

“We cook lunch for our customers and the community. We typically serve about 150 people at these one-day events.”

But something special happened at their most recent event.

An author came by to sign copies of a book that featured a dragon named Drake.

“Down Side Up” written by the store owner’s mother-in-law Grandma Faye was featured.

The author said, “The book signing was wonderful. Sitting next to Silas watching him carefully autograph each book in his newly learned cursive, was a highlight for this grandma, and meeting so many great people was also awesome.”

Here’s how it came about.

Jarratt Hardware authors
At the authors table, Grandma Faye and Silas sign books.

A dragon tale

The owners said several years ago they attended the Do it Best Spring Market as a family and invited their mom and dad to join them. This Market was in February, so it was cold.

“Our youngest, the wild card of the family, was convinced that the steam rising from the sewer manholes was from dragons under the roadways.

“So, we spent our days between market activities strolling the streets of Indy hunting for dragons, both big and small. This search continued to our hometown of Jarratt, where we found dragons living below the streets too,” said Lexi.

Grandma Faye saw this as an opportunity to excite their boys about reading and writing, much like her original work “Awesome Possum” excited Lexi and her siblings when they were young.

She said, “it was a super, positive, fun day. As we all know though we can have bad days, but just as Drake the dragon helped Silas turn a bad situation around, I hope we can all learn to turn The Down Side Up.”

Andy and Lexi shared a tip for other hardware owners about hosting events at their businesses.

Know your community and customer base, they said. “We spend a lot of time thinking about relevant opportunities, programs and events that will provide interest and benefits to them, as well as provide givebacks to show appreciation to them.”

This couple is focused on customer detail. “I truly don’t think there is anything my husband couldn’t find as a product to provide to a customer, or anything he can’t help them fix,” said Lexi.

“He is a devoted store owner. He’s one of a kind. We put our customers and community first.”

Andy and Alexis Jones said their business is unique because they focus on every customer.

“We serve all customer types – from farmers and commercial and industrial entities to homeowners and contractors.”

The special nature of their book signing shows that every hardware store has a unique niche.

Jarratt Hardware invited a friendly dragon to their most recent event.

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You might also enjoy reading She Rocks Hardware.