GALION — What if we told you the local hardware store — the place you go for generally useful tools, was, well, something more?
That’s the case with HR Wolf Hardware. It definitely has some surprises for new customers. Patrons who are there often probably know the inventory well, and there are many repeat customers. Stand near the entrance and listen as almost every customer is greeted by name.
They also have customers from Crestline, Bucyrus, Mount Gilead, Ontario and further reaches.
So what’s so surprising at Wolf Hardware?
The store actually occupies three storefronts, opened up into one shop — they accommodate a lot of inventory. The smell of fresh popped popcorn may not be the item customers visit the store for, but it’s there near the cash register for patrons to enjoy. Contractors and home DIYers will find the trim, nuts, bolts, gardening supplies, and items like skeleton keys you can’t find in modern hardwares.
And one of the newest additions is a spectrophotometer, which allows them to match paints and even identify color matches in fabric accessories. They have also expanded their electrical supplies.
“There’s never been this amount of inventory,” Rick Wolf said. “Even during COVID we’ve been able to expand. And we have awesome customers, just great customers.”
The store is locally owned by Rick and Amie Wolf, and currently three generations of the Wolf family work at the store, including his parents and their daughter Elizabeth.
“Poland Hardware has been here since, I think, 1967,” said Amie Wolf. “I know Willard and Annabelle Poland were at this location since the 60s and we purchased it in January 2008, but we did not change the name until December 2018,” she said.
“We worked here prior to that. My dad worked here for over 25 years. He’s a retired Galion firefighter and he worked here part time even when he was at the fire department. And then when he retired, he still worked part time. And then when we bought he was on it pretty much full time…plus. Mom has probably worked here over 20 years.
Formerly a True Value store, True Value was shifting its direction from a co-op to a general wholesaler and the Wolfs decided to work with a different wholesaler that gave them more flexibility. They changed the name of the store to HR Wolf Hardware.
“Anymore I think hometown hardwares are unique because you don’t see very many of them,” Rick Wolf said, “Independent hardware stores have little ‘trinkets.’ They have the little individual things that the box stores don’t carry.”
And then there’s the craft section, particularly counted cross stitch supplies, though there are also some quilting supplies and paints, too. That’s a surprise.
The counted cross stitch inventory is definitely something a chain hardware store wouldn’t offer, and Rick Wolf was a bit uncertain when she proposed it and the response continues to be a surprise.
“I know Amie has great ideas and I know that ultimately she has the best interest for the store. I just didn’t realize how many people it would draw in—that’s what surprised me,” said Rick Wolf. “It’s not only somebody that cross stitches, men women and children, it’s not that. It’s the person that brings them too. It’s a road trip: that will help the whole store.”
Customers arrive and then ask for recommendations for where to eat? What other shops should they go to? It becomes a benefit for all of Uptowne Galion.
“I think everybody can benefit from each other. Everybody needs to help everybody in a small town,” he added.
For those who think cross stitch is a dying art because they can’t find patterns and supplies in the stores. It’s not dead and HR Wolf’s carries the evidence.
“I’ve had people tell me they’d come work for me for free if I would take them to Nashville [to the show,” Amie Wolf stated. “You would have to go to Columbus, otherwise you’re going to Findley for cross stitch, patterns, or floss. Even most of that you’re not going to find at a JoAnn’s.”
To promote the cross stitch, which continues to swell with interest, she listed them on a Facebook group called Stitching Road Trip.
“When I was in Nashville [at a show] I talked to the administrators of the page and she said, ‘Just do a post,’ and I got 1,200 reactions in less than 24 hours. In the last three weeks, I’ve had people from Hamilton, Cincinnati, Marion, Caledonia, Tallmadge, and Detroit,” she said.
They ship their cross stitch products. In the last month she’s shipped to Texas and Pennsylvania. And she is currently working with A1 Printing to expand their website to include a special section for the cross stitch.
She added the craft section in 2014 and it’s been growing since then, but the last two years COVID increased her enthusiasm for cross stitch.
“As a family we have to do things to make us happy, do things we enjoy,” she said.
Their daughter Elizabeth, who also works in the store when she’s not pursuing her college degrees, wasn’t interested in cross stitch until they went to the Nashville show. “Well, there were 132 vendors, or designers, there so you walk in and it was just all of these beautiful cross stitches on display. Everyone things of cross stitch from 1985 but it’s so much more than that now. There’s so many things out there,” said Amie Wolf.
They carry Stitching with the Housewives, Primrose, Black Cat and many more. She works with individual designers, rather than buying from wholesalers. By doing that she gets their products a month before they are released to the wholesalers or are offered online. That’s how some of the out-of-state orders are initiated. She posts the designs on Facebook where they have a large following.
They hope to be listed as part of a tours to stitch online listing that encourages stitchers to visit shops around the state. It’s a win for couples, she explained. Wives can seek out the cross stitch corner and their husbands are likely to find a hammer, garden rake, chain, fertilizer spread, or a handful of nails they need.
Hardware buyers need not worry—there are plenty of tools, materials and supplies for the DIYer or contractor — there’s just something more.
This is part of a series of stories about Uptowne Galion — a community of shops and businesses that make Galion home.