After 66 years in business, the Guthries can tell you a thing or two about the nuts and bolts of running a hardware store.
Located in a historic building in downtown Brookneal, Guthrie’s Hardware was founded by Billy Guthrie in 1954. Guthrie’s daughter, Brenda Short, now works as the store’s office manager. Short said she is proud to work for her family’s business, which also employs her son, James Short, as a stock boy. Short said the store is still quite popular, even after so many years in business.
“We’ll have people come in to browse, just to look,” Short said.
Both Short and Kevin Bray, the store’s longtime manager, described Guthrie’s as a traditional hardware store. Bray said the store carries specialty items that big box hardware stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot may not have, and provides a high level of service by maintaining good relationships with customers and making special orders for them if needed.
“We specialize in helping people fix what they need to fix,” Bray said.
Guthrie’s Hardware is open six days per week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The store carries over 1600 colors of Valspar paint, the largest selection of bolts and specialty hardware and plumbing in Brookneal, tools, novelty gifts, sporting goods, lawnmower parts, glass, electrical supplies, fishing bait and tackle and hunting and fishing licenses. They also offer key duplication.
One of the few traditional, independent hardware stores that remain on Main Street America, Guthrie’s has sold well known brands like American Hardware, Western Auto, Servistar and True Value and is currently an Orgill dealer.
Though the store was renovated two years ago, Short and Bray kept its ornate white ceiling, large windows and brick façade while adding updates like new shelving and lighting and an updated hardware section.
Short said when her father first opened the store it sold horse collars and plows, and that her father used to eat hard-boiled eggs cooked on a pot belly stove in the store.
Short said the store has changed a lot over the years, but has always had a focus on providing the best customer service possible.
“Everybody’s really liking the new inventory,” Short said.
Short said she is proud to provide her community with a local option for hardware.
“We feel like we’re supporting the community by being here,” Short said.
When asked about his favorite part of the job, Bray said he enjoys seeing familiar faces at work every day.
“Most of our customers are our friends,” Bray said.