Old Case Hardware


In 1904, John L. Case, my great-grandfather, began John L. Case Company, a general store, the predecessor to today's Case Hardware located in the same location.  As a foot note to general store, the sign on the front of the building read: Hats, Caps, Boots, Shoes, Drygoods and Groceries.  It truly was an old fashioned general store selling everything a person needed in those days. We even traded furs, wild game, vegetables, and poultry products for other goods.  It wasn't unusual to have the smell of skunk in the place as those were also a part of the hides traded from time to time. O' for the good old days.

 

John L. Case raised 5 children one of which, James C., my grandfather , became the next owner/operator of John L. Case Co. general store. The store was transformed through the years into a grocery store in the old two story structure with wood floors. The wood floors are where I got my first taste of work in the manner of floor sweeping at about the age of 8 or 10.

 

Just after World War II, James M. Case, my dad, along with his cousin John Tatum, started a business upstairs over the general store, Tatum & Case Radio & Electric. This business was a radio repair and general house wiring business, which evolved into a general hardware and building supply business. These were lean times and almost anything was done in the way of service to accommodate the customers. We were in the house construction business for a while, along with wiring and plumbing. In a county with a population of around 1500 to 1800 there wasn't much money to go around.

 

The two story structure, the general store, was added onto in order to accommodate the hardware business. In 1958 the business burned to the ground, at that time a hardship, but maybe a blessing in disguise looking back. When rebuilt the structure became a 7400 sq ft building which housed a grocery and the hardware business.

 

After a lengthy battle with cancer and the subsequent death of my granddad in 1962, my dad became owner/operator of the two businesses. Some years later, due to the changing nature of the grocery business, that part of the enterprise was closed.

The hardware was expanded to include the entire building with the retail sales floor being around 5000 sq ft and the remainder, in the basement, was used as a warehouse and repair shop. For many years we sold hardware and some building supplies. We repaired lawn and garden equipment, appliances and televisions and installed the same.

 

I started work at Case Hardware at the age of 15 after having worked several years in the grocery store as a clerk, stock boy, bag boy and floor sweeper. O for the days when youngsters had to work instead of getting an allowance. I worked part time at the many jobs associated with our hardware and appliance business. After high school and before unc wanted me in his army, I had attended technical school at then Walker Tech Inst. for radio and TV repair. Just after release from active duty in my uncles' Army, I went to the GE appliance school in Louisville, KY and assumed the duties of appliance repairman. From that time until we eliminated the appliance and brown goods business I also had those repair duties. I also spent much time in service schools for lawn and garden equipment repair and performed those duties as well. In addition I had the privilege of doing the delivery and installation of whatever we sold that needed it. I also became a licensed electrician.

 

As a result of the many titles and jobs I have availed myself of over the past 42 years I have gleaned a very good working knowledge of the everyday needs of our customers.  Many people in our trade area have come to rely on us at Case Hardware to solve their various plumbing, electrical, and other hardware related problems. It even seems of late that we have become dispensers of various forms of advice relating to life's problems, politics, community, children and even on occasion spiritual issues.

 

I had the privilege of working with my dad for some 21 years before his death in 1985. Dad’s death came after a 10 month battle with cancer, his very similar to his father's.

 

After dad's death I assumed the role of manager for several years until that of owner/operator in 1991. During that time we remodeled the store, changing the front some, adding more merchandise fixtures, automating, and expanding our products and services.

 

I have three sons who are interested in the business. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pass Case Hardware on to the 5th generation.  Already there’s one or two of the 6th generation that are definitely interested.

 

Written by:

Larry D. Case, owner

Case Hardware

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