Morgantown Hardware’s owner Debbie Parsons helps Ted Riggen find restoration supplies. photos by Brown County photographer Susan W. Showalter

Our Independent Hardware Stores

by Susan Showalter

Our area has two locally owned hardware stores—one very old Morgantown store and one not so old Nashville store.

Debbie Parsons and her husband Mike opened Morgantown Hardware and Supply, Inc. in March 2004 after they bought, then remodeled, the old hardware store built in 1880. They had recently moved to property they owned for fifteen years near Morgantown where Debbie’s younger siblings were raised.

“Mike always wanted to own a hardware store and he talked me into this idea”, said Debbie. “It has gone very well. The community is very supportive and everyone seems to be thrilled we are here. They say, ‘We have a real hardware store again.’ And we do… with the old wooden floors, rolling ladders and all.”

The store on Washington Street includes an old-fashioned storefront complete with gold leaf script on the front windows, original oak shelves, display counters and display tables. Two additional rooms include plumbing and painting merchandise as well as bulk seed, Case knives, electrical supplies, nuts, bolts, screws, lumber, hand and power tools, etc.

Occasionally tourists, attracted to the many old storefronts in Morgantown, drop in looking for old-fashioned Aladdin kerosene lamps, heaters and parts for Radio Flyer wagons.

Debbie and Mike really enjoy the community spirit in the store as repeat customers come and go all day stopping long enough to chat for a while as they drop in for supplies.

“Some old timers say this was always a hardware store. Others say it was once a general store. I am collecting old pictures and checking out the history,” said Debbie. “Our building is a historically significant building according to the Morgan County Historical Society.”

The town is in the process of applying for status as a historical town and preliminary approval has already been granted.

Computers have changed the hardware business making business easier. The Parsons are happy to special order supplies online, such as vacuum cleaners or lawnmowers, to be delivered within a few days.

The store functions as a wild turkey and deer check station as well as selling hunting and fishing licenses online. Debbie began carrying hunting and fishing merchandise late February and a hunter education class is to be taught nearby on March 19, 2005.

Debbie and Mike hope to offer gardening, repair, and remodeling clinics soon. Morgantown Hardware and Supply, Inc. is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. For more information call 812 597-1907.

Roger Walton and Curt Scroggins

Roger Walton gets help from Bear Hardware owner Curt Scroggins.

After Curt Scroggins worked for his uncle at Kleindorfer’s Hardware in Bloomington for fifteen years he drove a truck then tried construction work and carpentry. Curt knew it was time to get back into the hardware business when Brian Cook, the owner of Cook’s Hardware store in Nashville, decided to retire in 1999. Brian was a hardware distributor for many years and had a longtime working relationship with Curt through Kleindorfer’s. Curt bought the business and renamed it Bear Hardware in honor of his late brother, Barry “Bear” Scroggins.

Now his wife Penny and teenage sons Will and Sam help him operate the store. They commute daily from their home just over the Monroe County line.

“I’ve been here six years now and I have met a lot of people and made a lot of new friends. I like it over here real well. I like all the scenery and the laid back atmosphere. Not like in the big cities,” Curt said as he grinned. “I love dealing with people and helping them solve problems. Sometimes that can be a long drawn out thing and sometimes that can be a short thing. Plumbing supplies seem to be the area where most people need assistance.”

Since taking over the store, Curt has added more employees, work clothes, power tools and many other merchandise lines that people need every day. Unlike most hardware stores, he also stocks art supplies because of the large number of artists who live in and visit Brown County. Additionally pool and camping supplies are sold at Bear Hardware because they are not available at other stores locally.

“We sell more paint than anything else but we are happy to order anything people need”, said Curt. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve the people and appreciate everybody shopping here and giving me the chance to do what I like to do best.”

The store includes a large lawn and garden department. Each spring the front outside is decorated with a wide variety of beautiful high quality annual and perennial flowers.

Bear Hardware is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays. For more information call 812-988-8888.