Persistence pays off with new store

Whether Marion needs a hardware store has never really been a question. Neither was whether people realized Marion needed a hardware store. As soon as we were without one, people knew it needed to be replaced, although plenty of people have told me that they were surprised by how much they needed a hardware store in town.

The real question was whether we would get the hardware store we need. Now, thankfully, it looks like we will with plans for an Ace Hardware coming together. Owner Kent Carmichael told reporter Olivia Haselwood, who herself worked for Ace for several years in her hometown, that he plans to open it in February, or maybe March.

Time will tell, but at first glance it looks like a good match. Carmichael has decades of hardware experience, as well as the cachet of owning three other hardware stores. If he can properly gauge the local market, there is no reason the new store shouldn’t succeed.

I’ve been on the Marion Economic Development Inc. board since January, and it has been eye-opening to see how slowly economic development moves. It is like slow molasses, and not without good reason. I would rather have slow and steady development than a flash in the pan that goes bust six months after opening.

But it takes persistence. There are a lot of promising leads that turn into dead ends. That’s the nature of investing. But you can’t despair and give up whenever you stumble. I’m not sure if Carmichael found Marion or vice-versa, but there were at least a couple of false starts seeking to open a hardware store in town. There was some frustration, but I never sensed anybody felt it was a lost cause.

The result of that persistence is a store that plans to expand by 25 percent before even opening its doors. Hopefully this is a sign that the search for a store to fill the void left by Duckwall’s closing is close to turning a corner.

What community is about

This week I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several good examples of people banding together as a real community. It started with several men volunteering and building a wheelchair ramp for a couple.

Saturday was the Alternative Gift Market with dozens of people manning booths, encouraging guests to give to charities, whether local or international. The market raised more than $9,000 for the various charities.

Monday included an almost astonishing array of Veterans Day events: the quilt show and donation of quilts to veterans by Quilts of Valor, American Legion members visiting elderly veterans, and the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary throwing a soup supper to raise money to support veterans, to name a few.

The high schoolers in town got in on the act, too. Key Club organized a Red Cross blood drive on Monday, and a cast of 33 is preparing for a musical production of “Footloose.” Having a sister who was part of plays in high school, I know how much time and teamwork go in to making them a success.

Is it because of the change of seasons? Is it a cooperative instinct that dates back to the Stone Age? I don’t know, but it is wonderful to see neighbors being neighborly.

– Adam Stewart

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