Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shoppes at Farmers Hardware - Boone, NC

Want to visit us in person? Just stop by any time at the historic Shoppes at Farmers Hardware in Boone, NC. A quaint relic of Boone's past, Farmers is the "it" emporium for tourists and collegiates alike. I thought I'd give Jason and Brandon a plug here but they certainly need no help from me! Here's an article that was printed in the High Country Press:

Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware—Four Floors, 100 Shops, 83 Years of History

Story by Sam Calhoun

Four generations of the Langdon and Greene family have witnessed 83 years of history from their perch at 611 West King Street. What was originally a hardware store from 1924 to 2004 is now a four-story emporium with 100 shops. Brothers Jason and Brandon Langdon now run the family operation. At least once every day, brothers Jason and Brandon Langdon—owners of the Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware, 611 West King Street in Boone—get to reminisce with a customer about the old days when their four-story, 100-shop emporium was the iconic Farmer’s Hardware—Boone’s most famous hardware store that closed in 2004.

Farmer’s Hardware occupied the space for 72 years. The hardware store opened in 1924 where Boone Bagelry is today and then moved to the current location of the Shoppes in 1932 when the Langdon family—then the Greene family—bought Boone Hardware.

Jason and Brandon are the fourth generation to operate a business at the location, and with two years of business under their belt and the fifth generation already alive and kicking, it looks like the corner of King and Depot Streets will continue to be dominated by the Langdon family.

With three employees—two of whom are cousins—Jason and Brandon’s business is to provide retail space for vendors, selling everything from jewelry to furniture, from home d├ęcor to clothes, from handbags to collectibles, from pottery to arts and crafts. When the Shoppes opened in 2005, many missed the hardware store that was a cornerstone of downtown Boone, but the family hardware store couldn’t compete with the prices at Lowe’s Home Improvement and Wal-Mart.

So, to survive in the 21st century business climate and to maintain the building that has been in their family since the 1930s, the Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware was born.

Jason, 34, and Brandon, 32, love the building and the business just as much as the three generations of family that passed before them. The brothers grew up in the store; both worked there throughout their time at Watauga High School and beyond.

“We can’t leave it—this is where we work,” said Brandon.

Both Brandon and Jason work at the emporium five days per week, helping customers navigate through the floors of specialty shops. Most of the vendors hail from the High Country, but a fair number are from Florida and southern North Carolina.

“Our selection is always changing—there’s always something new,” said Brandon. “We have excellent vendors.”

What many people in the High Country don’t know about the Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware, said Brandon, is that the emporium also offers a large selection of furniture. With brands such as Broyhill, Hooker and Kincaid, the Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware carries a wide selection of dinette sets, bedroom sets, sofas and accent tables at reasonable prices.

The majority of the emporium’s customers are from 100 miles away or more and are mostly women, said Brandon—noting the difference between the majority of men who shopped at Farmer’s Hardware. The brothers hope that the local clientele will start to frequent their business more in the days and years to come, taking advantage of the emporium’s many brand names and competitive pricing.

“And we have thousands of gifts for any occasion,” added Brandon.

When not working at the emporium, Brandon and Jason both enjoy playing golf and practicing guitar with each other. On Sundays, the Langdon family regularly gathers at Jason and Brandon’s parents’ pool for some rest and relaxation with the kids. Brandon and his wife Allison have one son, Harrison, 2, and Jason is the father of Case, 9, and Henry, 5.

Yes, the fifth generation is growing up in Boone, just as the four generations before them, and soon, they will be the faces behind the counter at 611 West King Street—whatever the business is then.

“Don’t worry; we plan on staying here,” Brandon said.

The Shoppes at Farmer’s Hardware is located at 611 West King Street in downtown Boone. The emporium is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. For more information or to inquire about renting a space at the emporium, call 828-264-8801.