Submitted by: Edith Faye Redden
Dickenson County Historical Society President
For the past few months, the Historical Society has presented a series of articles related to the history of several Dickenson County businesses. Originally published in The Dickensonian newspaper during the late 1950s as advertisements, the articles are now a valuable history of the businesses and of the people who made the businesses successful!
This week’s article continues the final category of advertisements. The story of Home Hardware & Furniture Company, which appeared in May 15, 1959 issue of The Dickensonian, has been reworded slightly for clarification to indicate that the article was written in the past. Quoting the 1959 article:
“There’s no place like home,” the poet once sang and there were many, many people in Dickenson County who would declare that he meant Home Hardware and Furniture Company in Clintwood. In so many ways it was unique. Not only was it just about the friendliest store you were ever in, but you would find it stocked with quality merchandise at reasonable prices and large quantities of a very rare and very precious something known as good will.
“Home Hardware and Furniture Company was a post-war baby, born at the beginning of the boom that followed World War II. It was founded by the late Clarence Stone, G. C. Stidham, and Earl Mullins. It opened in the face of some of the stiffest competition imaginable. At the end of the war such stores had sprung up like mushrooms in the vicinity of Clintwood; and when Home opened in 1946, it was given little chance of survival by local citizens.
“For a while it looked as if they were right. It got off to an extremely slow start, and the partners began to feel as if they had made a mistake. Mullins was the first to pull out; he sold to Stone. Then Stone and Stidham sold to the late Claude Reedy, John Gilliam, and George Lambert of Nora.
“Reedy already had two hardware and furniture stores; so in 1949, Elmer Lambert bought his interest in the business and moved into the manager’s post of the concern. Then, in November of 1951, Gilliam sold his interest to George Lambert; and Elmer embarked on the campaign of building good will for the firm. Just how successful he was could be attested to by the fact that he even had the good will of his competitors, the final accolade for any business.
“Elmer Lambert was a quiet, unassuming young man who was the exact opposite of the extroverted hard-sell expert considered essential in this highly competitive business. It was possible that this shy reticence had contributed to his personal charm. But one thing was certain and that was that the people of Dickenson County liked to do business with him; and they made no bones about their admiration for the fellow.
“A veteran of World War II, Elmer served nearly three years seeing action in the two major oceans of that conflict. Following his discharge he went to work for his father’s Lambert Coal Company and continued in this work until he bought an interest in Home Hardware. In 1946 he married Mary Dean Fleming; and they have two children, Mary Frances, and Gregory.
“Home Hardware carried, in addition to a lovely line of furniture, Kelvinator and Hotpoint appliances, Samsonite luggage, Dupont paint, Sunbeam appliances, hardware, a full line of farm equipment, and the largest line of fishing equipment in Dickenson County.
“When the nearby Tennessee lakes were opened to the public, Elmer correctly foresaw that Dickenson residents would take to the fishing waters like ducks; and he began to assemble his stock of fishing gear. It was complete to the last sinker, and fishermen had to go no further for any of their needs. The fact that Home was the fisherman’s headquarters of this county was proven by the fact that every prize catch by a local citizen was brought there for display.
“On May 1 , Blaine Trivitt became manager of the store. He brought with him the experience of 17 successful years as manager of the Clinchco Hardware and Furniture Co. Blaine was known throughout the county for his years of honest and fair dealing in the business; and when he assumed the managership of Home Hardware, it was understood that his association would eventually lead to a full partnership.
“Tolby Mooney had been with the firm since 1951; and his work as deliveryman and appliance serviceman had much to do with the success of the enterprise. People knew they could depend on Tolby; and when they bought an appliance from Home Hardware, they were sure it would be installed correctly and that service would be first rate.
“Mary Dean also worked in the store, and was particularly helpful when lady customers were concerned. She knew the capabilities of the appliances; and she could explain them to women in woman language, an art few male salespeople have mastered.
“‘There’s no place like home.’ A visit to the store and it would be pretty certain that you would understand why so many people were sure it meant Home Hardware!”
As an update to this article, Blaine Trivitt’s manager’s relationship with the business did eventually lead to a partnership sometime during the early to mid-1960s. On a personal note, I personally worked for Blaine in the business from 1973 - 1985. Soon after that, the business was sold to Sheila and Leman Kendrick who operated it for several years.
The Historical Society would like to thank all those who read our articles and who take the time to contact us about them.
For more information about this article, or any of our publications, or to make corrections or additions to an article, or to purchase a local history book, please contact the Historical Society office at 276-926-6355, P. O. Box 52, Clintwood, VA 24228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. If no answer, please leave a message and one of our volunteers will return your call. Or contact Edith Faye Redden at 276-926-4117.