By Drake the Dog
Reader Pet Columnist
Where am I taking my humans today? The Missus just got back from a business trip to Disneyworld, and I have a new leash on life! Mom is home! Not to say that the Mister didn’t do a good job taking care of my kitty sister and me, but I missed my Mom. I couldn’t wait for my morning stroll to re-unite myself with my peeps downtown. Geez, everybody’s out, including Mr. Sol.
As I gaze at the entry of South Fork Hardware, located at 201 N. 3rd Ave., the vista of colored Adirondack chairs and wheelbarrow displays, coupled with the smell of potting soil and mulch, heighten my sense. Spring is here and the ginormous icicles on the side of the building are gone! The Missus is overjoyed at the ease of parking right in front of the store. There additional spaces across the street in the city lot and in the parking lot on the side of the building. (Note to parking guy—no parking revenue here!). I talked the Missus into checking out the pet department (which the Mister and I know very well), because she did not have room in her carry bag for Pluto. Ray Yaw, the store director and his wife Terri greeted us, and shared some barkin’ good history.
I was eager to learn about why this place is called a “hardware store.” Ray told us that back in the day there were mercantile stores, which sold primarily flour and food. Hardware stores focus on selling hard goods or durable goods, which do not quickly wear out. Part of the popularity of American hardware stores is the range of services they provide. At South Fork Hardware you can re-key entry locks, make copies of house and car keys, (including the chip kind); sharpen knives and custom mix paint. They can even help you with special orders for large jobs like fences, docks, etc. Check out all of the departments–house wares, electrical, plumbing, basic hardware, lawn and garden, toys for the kids, dogs, power and hand tools, cool drinks, candy and snacks. The Mister loves this place! He can buy one nail at a time instead of a mega pack. This way they’re almost free!
Ray, a Sandpoint native and graduate of Sandpoint High School, and has been in hardware business since 1970. He worked with the original owners Lee and Terry Merwin, who owned the iconic store since 1960. He has many fond memories, as he met his wife, Terri, at the store and they were married in1973. Ray has volunteered with the Northside Fire Department for over 40 years, and he is now the fire commissioner. The Merwin’s sold to the South Fork group in 2013 and the Sandpoint store became store #15. Other stores (19 total) are in located in Montana, Nevada and Utah.
And now for the good part: The employees have fur babies. Valerie has worked at the store for 17 years. She has three dogs, all German wirehaired pointers. They get all wired up when they run thru the store! Ray and Terri have inherited their son’s pups: Jaret, a 12-year-old Chocolate lab, and Coda, a 12 year old a Chesapeake Bay retriever.
Ray and Terri’s grandkids, Chase and Angela, are students at Sandpoint Middle School. They love the store and the friendly folks that know you by name. They enjoy hearing ‘grandpa stories’ about the good ol’ days at the hardware store and Sandpoint Middle School. Their favorite product is the selection of toilet seats, complete with LED lights that are built in under the seat! Hmmm … I’ll take my morning walk instead!
My pup buddies, Cricket, Shadow, and Tank, visit South Fork on a regular basis. Tank brings in a rock or paper clip and instructs his Dad to play fetch in the store. At the end of the day, we all land in the pet department and sniff out the pig’s ears.
So, come visit the new kids on the block. South Fork Hardware is well stocked and hometown friendly! There’s something for everybody, and I’ll be back!
• Leashes please
• Treats are located at the counter—for good pups only
• Enjoy the cool water outside—the bowl is under the faucet