After 80 years in business, a New Stanton hardware store has processed more than 3 million customer transactions.
Multiple 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 at the store’s helm.
“It’s grown as the needs of the community have grown and changed,” Orient said. “We’ve tried to grow with them.”
As a board member for more than 10 years, Orient said her role within the family business has “changed quite a bit” — especially since her father stepped away from Hepler’s, giving her and her brother, Robert S. Hepler, the opportunity to fill his shoes.
Hepler, co-owner and vice president, said he “grew up in the business,” working his way from bagging seeds as a boy, cleaning and stocking shelves, to having an ownership stake and board position 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.”
Though roles within the business have shifted over the years, some parts have remained the same, such as the store shelving, which Orient said could be over 50 years old.
“I can imagine the service model was a bit different back then,” Orient said. “(At) a lot of old-time general stores, products were stored all behind the counter.”
Orient said customers would approach the counter with a list of items, and employees would personally retrieve them — a stark contrast to Hepler’s “self-service model” in place today.
And items available today in the hardware store include a lot more power equipment than back in the day, Orient said.
Throughout its 80 years, Hepler’s has employed about 200 people and job opportunities haven’t slowed — even throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were fortunate in that we were perceived as an essential business,” Orient said.
While needs changed amid the health crisis, such as finding different suppliers for various products, Orient said Hepler’s was able to remain a steady force in the community.
“We do provide quite a bit of basic needs for the community,” Orient said. “We were able to maintain our operations.”
Hepler’s is marking its anniversary with a series of events this week, including:
History Happy Hour: “Youngwood Thru Time” — 6-8 p.m. Friday at the Stanton Daily Grind
Hepler’s Hardware 80th Open House — 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, with remarks and cake at 10:30 a.m.
Hepler’s Hardware began as a feed store, and it’s the oldest and founding division of Hepler’s Town & Country Enterprises — its parent corporation that also includes Stanton Milling and coffee shop Stanton Daily Grind.
For Hepler’s 80th anniversary celebrations, Orient said her niece and nephew will help out — inaugurating the fifth generation of Heplers into the family business.
The business is and will continue to be “an opportunity for creativity and entrepreneurship,” Hepler said.
“You really do anything when you own your own business — equity in a business comes oftentimes through sweat equity,” Hepler said. “You really earn your place.”
Being able to help neighbors out by solving problems and meeting needs is part of why Hepler said he feels “truly, richly blessed.”
“There’s certainly a lot of pride in keeping it going,” Orient said.
And keeping business going, Orient said, is her family’s main goal now that the store hit its 80-year milestone.
“We’d love to see it continue well beyond 100 years,” Orient said. “We look forward to continuing that service in whatever means the community needs.”