Dunsmuir Hardware

The traditional hardware store of Dunsmuir - California's historic railroad town. Founded by Dunsmuir's first mayor - Alexander Levy - in 1894 and continuing today as a full service TRUE VALUE hardware store. This blog is simply intended to be a running commentary on operating a century old small town hardware store. Also please check our our website at

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Location: Dunsmuir, California

Sunday, July 23, 2006


So here we are in the heat of the summer. It's been in the high 90s and hit 100 degrees daily for the past 10 days or so. Our un-air-conditioned store does remarkably well. We bypass the heat chamber on the huge furnace in our basement and just use the fan to draw cool basement air up into the sales floor. It doesn't actually lower the temperature much but does create a breeze that many people mistake for air conditioning. Even at that there have been days this past week when it hit the 90s on the sales floor - which feels better than the 100 degrees plus outside. I sincerely believe that the hottest spot in town is right in front of our store where there are only a few trees, pavement and building fronts reflecting heat. Probably hits 110 or so right out there on the sidewalk.

British Car Show, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Railroad days have all come and gone and have been a great stimulus for business. After the miserable months of March and April, we're breaking records for May, June and July. High gas prices ($3.29) don't seem to matter much but it's hard to measure. The phone seems to ring more now as people call ahead to see if we have what they need instead of driving to see, and we sense more reluctance to go out of town for their needs if they can get what they want at our store. On the other hand, we're seeing lots of out of town people who are vacationing, day-tripping, fishing or just passing through.

Fourth of July week was great for us. Some of our busiest days ever! Don't know if some of that was overflow from Mt. Shasta where their celebration was being held or if it was just holiday traffic that we would have had anyway. Railroad days wasn't as busy as Fourth of July but was up about 50% over last year for us and was very busy. The center of activity for the celebration was on Sacramento Avenue - a block east of us - as has been done for the past couple of years. We honestly prefer it that way from a business standpoint. The street doesn't get blocked so our regular customer traffic is un-interrupted and we get the benefit of extra people and extra energy in town. Our "old-time hardware store" reputation, model railroad section and gift items draw many visitors.

The level of activity, huge incoming shipments to keep up with the sales, record high customer counts (regularly hitting 150 per day) and the high temperature have me and my three guys (Walt, Larry and Mike) under a lot of stress and we're going home tired every day, but morale is high and we're enjoying it all.

A footnote; we're getting our firewood for next winter in. Have one cord in and stacked and will get five more. It's really hard to be enthusiastic about winter firewood when it's over 100 degrees.


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