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, April 03, 2011


We've now been converted to a new automated fishing and hunting license system by the California Department of Fish and Game. We understand that the system was undergoing design and development for ten years and we wish the state had taken a little longer and perhaps made it more "user friendly." OK we'll admit that we are a bit old-fashioned and resistant to change but sometimes we feel a bit overwhelmed by the ways business is conducted today.

When we purchased the business in 1975 there was no computer. Our cash register was a big old crank thing that required a firm whack on the total bar to complete a transaction. The previous owners did have a phone system; a dial phone at the check-out counter and another in the office. Monthly statements were hand typed on an old (non-electric) typewriter which we still keep in the office but now as an antique. The bell that announces when a customer enters or leaves was a bell hanging from a wire that sort of went "clunk" when the door bumped it. Price stickers were hand-written - often on masking tape. Fishing and hunting licenses were also hand-written.

So - OK - we have to admit that some things are better today. The cash register is electronic and links to a computer system that updates inventory and sales records, posts to customer accounts, and produces all kinds of management reports. We have a telephone system with three cordless extensions and an answering system. We have a fax machine on its own dedicated line. Monthly statements are computer generated in a matter of minutes. The door bell announcer is an electronic unit that uses an invisible light beam to trigger a "ding" instead of a "clunk." We don't use price stickers much now that everything is bar coded and scanned at the check-out. And now fishing and hunting licenses are computer generated.

But it isn't all painless. We remember the time when we could call one of our suppliers, hear a familiar voice on the phone, exchange pleasantries, place the order and know that it was on its way in just a few minutes. Today to place an order with that same supplier we get on their website, access their catalog, try to remember our username and password, search for the items we want, finalize the order, send it to the "shopping cart," select how we want it shipped, and its on its way to us in about thirty minutes or so. We recently had a customer from the Philippines who wanted a one day fishing license. He didn't have a California drivers license and spoke very little English. It took us a half hour to sell him a license on our new system - would have taken less than two minutes with the old one.

Admitedly it would be next to impossible to conduct business today without computers. True Value Hardware requires that we place our orders and transact our business with them on a computer. The Department of Justice requires that we do firearms transaction on a dedicated computer. The IRS requires that we pay our taxes by computer - automatically deducting from our bank account - rather than by mailing a check. The California Board of Equalization requires that we file our sales tax return by computer. Now the Department of Fish and Game requires that we sell fishing and hunting licenses on a dedicated computer. Pacific Power wants us to accept PP&L payments on a dedicated computer but we are drawing the line there. We have enough computers.

We admit to buying into the computer world to a degree. We do have this blog and we have a modest website - . We do some product research on the internet and communicate some with email. But we don't have a cell phone or ipod, or ipad, or "smart phone" or blue teeth and don't want them. We're not on "facebook" and we don't text, skype, tweet, twitter or chirp - - - although we do burp now and then.