Rural Missouri - January 2018 - 9
Left: Dale McNabb is the second-generation to own the historic downtown business Trenton
Hardware. Above: H.E. Brown, second from right on the steps, stands in front of his business
in 1905. Brown was one of the company's founders in 1902 and owned the store until around
1949. Right: Dale's father, Jack, second from right, began working at the store in 1954.
burned out toaster and a ﬁrst-class stamp.
"See, I could even be a post ofﬁce," he says with a laugh as he trades a customer for a pair of quarters.
A steady stream of handymen and contractors needing last-minute materials on their way to the job site are in and out the door. Alongside them in the
aisles are folks who need something they might be able to ﬁnd elsewhere but
"Product knowledge is still probably what we do best," Dale says. "Somebody
choose to purchase here, such as a grandmother buying practical Christmas comes in and says 'I've got to get from here to here' or 'what do I need to do?'
gifts - ﬂashlights for her grandkids to keep in their cars.
and we can generally ﬁnd the ﬁttings they need and get them out the door.
On the rare occasion Dale doesn't have in stock what someWe're really fortunate that is what's kept us here - customer loyalty and
one needs right now, he makes it a personal mission to ﬁnd
it for them. When a customer shows up looking for a wet-dry
To quote Dale, it's pretty hard to reinvent hardware but his industry
Shop Vac that Trenton Hardware won't have back in stock until
been without changes. The store's ever-growing and gleaming
Thursday, he doesn't hesitate to call Grundy County Lumber to
stock of battery-powered Milwaukee tools has pretty much replaced
make sure they have one before sending them over the sale. It's not
their corded precursors. The old standards of cast-iron drain lines
a service or an offer that you're likely to receive at a big-box retailand incandescent bulbs have become PVC and LED. But the old
ways of doing business still suit Trenton Hardware just ﬁne 115
er, and Dale says that kind of courtesy is reciprocated at other
stores around town.
years later. Dale recalls an exchange between a customer and
"It's nothing for them or Jim's Building Supplies to give us a call
an employee at the register that perfectly sums up the spirit of
and see if we have something they're out of, too," Dale says. "We all
"She said, 'You don't hardly have anyone count change back to
help each other out, but that's small town more than anything else."
It's not just the variety of items in the shop - any hardware store needs
you anymore,' and he said, 'You do if you work in here.' That goes back to
good inventory to survive. Nor does it stop with Dale being able to pinpoint any when my Dad ran things: You carried a pen in your shirt pocket, you counted
speciﬁc item in the rows and racks of bits and pieces that he carries - he did, change back and no matter what you were doing if somebody walked through
after all, put them there himself. It's the product knowledge Dale can apply to that door, you dropped it to help them out," Dale says. "It's all about the person
each individual piece in any measured size that sets Trenton Hardware apart on that side of the counter."
from the pack. A young contractor shows Dale pictures of a renovation project
on his phone, and Dale is off across the worn ﬂoor boards to one wall of the
Trenton Hardware is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.
shop. In seconds he has the exact part the young man will need to ﬁnish the to noon Saturday. For more information, visit the store at 901 Main St. or call
Dale McNabb at 660-359-3660.
are a specialty. Pipe is cut and threaded to custom speciﬁcations in the shop's basement. Below right: Dale writes a receipt for a
soldering gun purchase. He takes cash, check or charges orders to customer accounts, but no credit cards are accepted. Right: Be it
nuts, bolts, screws, nails, valves or pipe ﬁttings - everything has its place in the precisely labeled bins and trays at Trenton Hardware.