Marsha Wagoner's family has owned and operated Farmer's Hardware on Main Street in downtown Sparta, North Carolina, for more than 80 years. But Marsha has decided it's time to retire. The long hours and lack of vacation time have given her a reason to consider changing her lifestyle a bit.
But it's clear from the steady stream of visitors to the store that the business's closing will leave a real void in the community. And based on the fact that she knows every customer by name it doesn't seem to be the 30% off sale that is bringing folks by the hardware. Customers are leaving with everything from nuts and bolts to cute home decor -- and no one gets away without personal assistance and a little friendly conversation. And there's probably nowhere else in Sparta with a better selection of flamingos (Marsha's personal favorite decor item).
She doesn't seem worried about how she'll spend her anticipated free time. She's hopeful for more time on the New River with her gang of kayak buddies ("Pirates of the New") who love to be on the water. And, happily, the first thing she said during a December 21 visit was, "I think we might be able to make it to Homecoming now!"