After 80 years in business, a New Stanton hardware store has handled more than 3 million customer transactions.
Several generations of the Hepler family have worked at Hepler’s Hardware on State Route 119 North since it opened in 1942.
Megan Orient, co-owner and president, is part of the fourth generation of Heplers to lead the store.
“It grew as the needs of the community grew and changed,” Orient said. “We tried to grow with them.”
As a member of the board for more than 10 years, Orient said his role in the family business had “changed a lot” – especially since his father moved away from Hepler’s, giving him to his brother, Robert S. Hepler, the opportunity to fill his shoes.
Hepler, co-owner and vice president, said he “grew up in the business,” going from bagging seeds as a boy, to cleaning and stocking shelves, to becoming owner and board member of administration after returning from the Marine Corps.
Hepler attributed the hardware store’s success to its local customers.
“We’re here because the community supports us,” Hepler said, “so it’s a privilege to continue to be able to…be here and celebrate.”
Although roles within the company have changed over the years, some parts have remained the same, such as the shelves in the store, which Orient says may be over 50 years old.
“I can imagine the serving model was a bit different back then,” Orient said. “(In) many general stores of the past, products were stored behind the counter.”
Orient said customers would approach the counter with a list of items and employees would personally collect them, in stark contrast to Hepler’s “self-service model” in place today.
And items available in the hardware store today include far more electrical equipment than back then, Orient said.
Throughout its 80 years, Hepler’s has employed approximately 200 people and job opportunities have not slowed, even throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were fortunate to be seen as an essential business,” Orient said.
As needs changed amid the health crisis, such as finding different suppliers for various products, Orient said Hepler’s was able to remain a stable force in the local community.
“We provide quite a few basic needs for the community,” Orient said. “We were able to maintain our operations.
Hepler’s celebrates its anniversary with a series of events this week, including:
Happy Hour Story: “Youngwood Thru Time” – 6-8pm Fridays at the Stanton Daily Grind
Hepler’s Hardware 80th Open House — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, with remarks and cake at 10:30 a.m.
Hepler’s Hardware began as a grocery store, and it is the oldest and founding division of Hepler’s Town & Country Enterprises – its parent company which also includes Stanton Milling and the Stanton Daily Grind cafe.
For Hepler’s 80th anniversary celebrations, Orient said his niece and nephew would help, ushering in the fifth generation of Hepler into the family business.
The company is and will continue to be “an opportunity for creativity and entrepreneurship,” Hepler said.
“You really do mess around when you own your own business — equity in a business often comes from sweat equity,” Hepler said. “You really deserve your place.”
Being able to help his neighbors by solving problems and meeting needs is part of why Hepler said he feels “truly, richly blessed.”
“There’s definitely a lot of pride in continuing,” Orient said.
And maintaining business, Orient said, is her family’s main focus now that the store has passed the 80-year mark.
“We would like to see it continue well beyond 100 years,” Orient said. “We look forward to continuing this service in any way the community needs.”
Megan Swift is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Megan at 724-850-2810, email@example.com or via Twitter .