Over the past year, the southern half of the front of our hardware store underwent a dramatic transformation. The look, the scope, and the concept changed so much from when demolition began to where we’re at now. Reflecting back upon all of those changes, ideas, and circumstances that helped shape the space, it became clear that this wasn’t really where this project truly started. After backing up a few years, the photo above pinpoints the exact beginning of The Workshoppe.
The photo was taken around 2012. We had just reluctantly left the True Value co-op after their freight fees and national advertising fees had gone up, yet again. This was an extremely hard decision for Ted. Pecatonica Hardware had been Pecatonica True Value since 1971; that’s a long business relationship. You get used to the systems, the people, the products… I still catch myself answering phone, “Pecatonica True Value, how can I help you?” – I apologize in advance if you are so lucky to receive this greeting. Leaving True Value meant we needed new systems, a new name, and a new logo.
We thought that Pecatonica Hardware would be the most fitting, taking the name back to what it was when Gene and Ruby bought the place in 1967. Pecatonica has had a store by that name since phone numbers were single digit in town – check out one of the promotional yard sticks on the wall behind the counter the next time you stop in.
We also wanted the logo to reflect some of this history by incorporating elements of 50’s and 60’s graphic design. I immediately thought of a friend whose record store has been a haunt of mine for over a decade now, Lauren Davis. Lauren and her husband, Skyler, own Culture Shock in Rockford, IL. Lauren also owns and operates Lauren Davis Creative which specializes in graphic design. Lauren is a champion for local businesses, buying local, the benefits of spending one’s money in the local economy, small business mentality, the heritage of proud small business owners in a town, etc. – I knew she would nail what we were going for, and I think she did.
Once we had the logo finalized, we needed some new signage. As you can see from the front of the store in the picture, we needed a bit of a face lift. Gene and Ruby had Bennett Construction remodel the facade in the 70’s, but other than a few coats of stain every few years, it was exactly the same for the last forty years. The cedar shakes were shot and we had been hearing for years that people had trouble seeing the sign from the road. With a little help from Signs Now from Rockford, some tin roofing from Top Notch installed by Steele Construction, a little painting by my favorite team, and voila!
Updating the front got us excited to keep going. It sparked the conversation about doing something about the worn out carpet up in the housewares/gift room. It got us to start questioning how things would look without that confining drop ceiling looming so close to our heads. Improving things helps build that energy and motivation to do more. As circumstances changed, ideas changed from simple store improvements to something to involve the whole community in our little world in a new way. That, though, is a story for another day. More pictures, more info, more renovation. – LK