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A century of selling hardware, values

December 8, 2011

The Piedmont Hardware ledger dates back to 1910.

During that year, the store sold a screwdriver in November for 25 cents.

In February 1911, someone purchased bull tongue for 15 cents. That same month, someone paid $4.50 for a plow.

Now, more than 100 years later, Piedmont Hardware is still serving the Maiden community in Catawba County. Like most everything else, the store’s business, ownership and even price range have changed over the years.

Current owner Samantha “Sam” Saunders said one thing hasn’t varied — the store’s values.

“Every time someone comes through that door, we greet them, ask them what they need and make them feel comfortable,” Saunders said. “We have always brought that small town atmosphere.”

Piedmont Hardware is celebrating its 101st birthday this year.

Records date the business back to 1910, when Samuel Finger owned the store in Maiden. It’s not clear where the store was located, but locals say that it was across the street from Piedmont’s current location at 10 E. Main St.

The business has been in its current location since 1922, when Baxter Drum bought the store. Saunders' father, Howard Cline, purchased the store in the 1980s. Since then, the family has expanded the store's walls into what used to be a theater and furniture store next door.

Now, though larger and across the street from its original location, Piedmont still has the feel of an old-fashioned, traditional hardware store.

The inside and outside of the building still retain most of the original appearance.

The store’s brick exterior is painted green with hand-painted white signage. Glass windows reading “Piedmont Hardware,” arched in red and white, lead the customer into a store that is unlike any Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Inside, the store defines the phrase, “You want it? We got it.” Shelves in three separate rooms are stocked with products used for anything from at-home touch-ups to professional manufacturing and construction projects.

To reach shelves that stretch 10-12 feet tall, Saunders and her sons, Chad and Blake, use three rolling wood ladders every day.

What really makes the store “feel like home” and different is an array of aged artifacts and animal mounts that fill the tops of walls and hang from the ceiling.

Saunders said many of the artifacts — which range from old chairs, to pitchforks, to a “Carolina Special” washboard — are from her great-grandfather’s farm.

“It makes the customer feel comfortable,” Chad said. “I think it brings back childhood memories for a lot of people. And everyone is into antiques nowadays.”

The store’s walls are also filled with 10 African and 13 North American animal mounts. Saunders said her father is a big hunter, and the store’s black bear, coyote and full-body leopard mounts are some of his prized kills.

Saunders has owned the store for 13 years after purchasing it from her father. During that time, Piedmont has continued to survive in a hardware market and U.S. economy that continues to change.

“It’s a good business to be in when the economy is bad, because people are going to fix things themselves that they would usually hire someone else for,” Saunders said, adding that the store’s income is primarily driven from business with local manufacturers like Ethan Allen.

She said the city of Maiden has been good to the store over the years, and the business has many frequent, returning customers. Earlier this week, Maiden’s town council honored Saunders and Piedmont Hardware for its 101st anniversary.

“Maiden is a good place for a hardware store,” she said. “We’re not big enough for a Lowe’s or a Walmart. We are able to build those relationships with people and they come back.”

Celebration
In celebration of its 101st birthday, Piedmont Hardware will give away door prizes and refreshments today and Saturday. Piedmont Hardware is located at 10 E. Main St. in Maiden.

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