It's been said that if you want something to last, you use the right tools. Nancy Spencer, along with her family and staff, has been providing the community with the right tools for 35 years! On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, the Chamber was joined by dozens of friends, family, customers, dignitaries, and even previous employees to celebrate the milestone anniversary of Spencer's ACE Hardware on Rutherford Road.
The outpouring of respect, admiration, loyalty, and small-town hospitality pervaded while Nancy, daughter Sonni (Spencer-Gay), and son Ryan humbly accepted awards and accolades from the attendees. Her local banker, her local insurance agent, her long-time friend and MBA director Freddie Killough, and Chamber director Steve Bush spoke about the qualities that impacted and facilitated her success in a male-dominated business.
"Nancy really set the bar high [for other business owners]," said Freddie. "I've known Nancy a long time and it's not always been easy." Freddie said she admired the manner in which Nancy has handled the struggles and hardships with grace and fortitude. Nancy's tenacity is well known among her staff and colleagues as well. She was once told (when looking to buy the hardware store) that she could never make it. Not only has she made it, the family recently purchased the Ace Hardware in Hickory and are working hard to bring their signature customer service to the residents of Hickory.
Ryan is overseeing the new store while Sonni goes back and forth between the two. Nancy said she realizes how lucky she is to have had her family beside her through the years and says that without them, she wouldn't be where she is today. "They are such an important part, even when they were little," she said. Photos of the first location (just down the road) and the building of the current store with the kids tell a beautiful story of a family that stuck it out together. Many of the past employees and even long-long customers are considered part of the Spencer's family. Previous employee Misty Camp shared how she worked at the store through high school and what a wonderful boss Nancy was, while Misty's toddler clapped enthusiastically to the crowd. Each spoke of how Nancy insisted on making sure her staff treated the customers with respect and genuine hospitality and how well Nancy treated her employees.
Nancy made the decision to join the ACE family of stores in 2013 and says they have been a great partner in regard to both products and marketing. With the marketing help from ACE, Nancy said she can focus her time on what matters, establishing and nurturing those important relationships. Even though building her business through the years has been hard work and demanding, she has always found time to give back to the community she loves so fondly. She contributes to Chamber programs through sponsorship and speaking, the city's GEM (Growing Entrepreneurs Marion), and the local Rotary. "Nancy is an incredible leader for her family, her businesses, and the community," said Chamber Executive Director Steve Bush. "She has been so gracious, sharing her wisdom with me and so many others, inspiring young entrepreneurs, bringing insight to community projects and just setting a wonderful example for all of us."
Spencer's ACE Hardware is a small business success story in so many ways. Nancy will be the first to tell you that in order to succeed, you have to fail, maybe a few times. But we have to learn from those failures about what works, for you, for your customers, and for the community that you serve and evolve and adapt, she said. Hickory is not the same as Marion, she explained. Although she established the same policies and procedures that garnered her success here, she said she knows that she will need to be attentive to the differences and make the appropriate adjustments. Nancy also credits her community engagement as an integral ingredient to her success. "You have to be involved," she said.
When customers spoke out at the event, the consensus was that they felt that Spencers was more than just a store. They felt as though they were dealing with a trusted friend, not a sales person wanting to make a commission. They also acknowledged the level of customer service found here was unmatched in the area. "You're always greeted," said one customer. "And if they don't have what you need, they will help you find where to get if they can't get it themselves. I appreciate that." Customers can also feel good knowing that when they shop at Spencer's, that their money will be going back into their town. Nancy uses local vendors for both products wherever she can and referral services, which helps everyone out.
From light bulbs and wiring to garden mulch and livestock feed, Spencer's has been providing McDowell residents with the right tools for the right job! Sonni and Ryan have every intention of continuing that family tradition for the next 35 years here and now in Hickory!
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For more information about the store, visit 1612 Rutherford Road, Marion, NC and online at spencershardward.com. They can be reached by phone at 828.652.8045.