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If you needed it, Garrett’s had it

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 11:38 a.m. CDT

For the 43 years Garrett’s Hardware was located on the north side of the Newton square, you could depend on them for nearly everything, from a package of thumb tacks to a piece of stove pipe for the old range on the farm. Its inventory of items for the home, garage or shop was endless.

Roy was born on Dec. 6, 1913, in Green Castle, Mo. His future wife, Fanny, was born on May 5, 1913 in New Providence, Iowa. When they were married on June 27, 1937, Roy was making just $15 per week but Fanny was earning a healthy $100 per month as a school teacher. Roy wondered why she would want to marry such a poor man but they spent 63 happy, contented years together.

Roy and Fanny moved to Newton in February 1940 to take over the old Peterson Hardware in the same location. Roy was working at King Hardware in Winterset when he was convinced by a fellow with the Brown-Camp Wholesale in Des Moines that he should open his own store. When Roy said he had no money to start his own, the fellow said, “No problem — we’ll find it for you.”

Thousands of people in Jasper County probably felt the same way as I did about Garrett’s. No matter what you needed, chances are you could find it at this small “full-service” hardware store. The creak of that wooden floor was a pleasant greeting as you walked by their tastefully decorated front window full of small appliances and gifts and headed toward the counter in the back to ask about your specific needs.

Roy, Fanny or their dedicated No. 1 employee Paul Moon, who was on the payroll from 1944 until they sold out and retired in 1983, seemed to have a sixth sense in knowing exactly where the thousands of items were located. The total store inventory seemed to be filed away in their heads like a modern day computer. Their instant recall was always somewhat of a mystery to me.

I can still hear the ring of that large old “National” cash register that now sits quietly out in the Jasper County Museum. There also was one of those little bells attached to their front door so they would know when someone arrived. A friendly atmosphere always seemed to prevail.

Shortly after both Roy and Fanny turned 72 years old and automatically started getting their first Social Security checks, they decided it might be time to retire. A potluck retirement party put on by their many friends was held in their store on Aug. 27, 1983.

The modern day Garrett’s is now Farver Tru-Value out in east Newton. Scott and Francine, using the same business philosophy as the Garretts, have successfully operated their full-service hardware business since opening their doors back in 1993. They are likewise in the process of becoming helpful “old-timers” in the eyes of many Jasper County natives. I find myself heading out to their modern day 21,000 square foot store at 2600 First Ave. E. whenever I need almost any kind of supply for the home or shop, aside from groceries. The atmosphere makes you feel welcome, and rarely do I ever leave without finding just what I need.

Scott, a Newton native, tells me that he used to deliver the Garrett’s newspaper as a boy and knew them most of his life. Perhaps this is where some of his great helpful attitude rubbed off. Scott just recently told me, “We are here to help people find what they want and have at least 20,000 items. Today, folks call it customer service, but all of our 25 full- and part-time staff just do their best to help.”

It’s successful business operations such as Garrett’s of the past and Farver of today that make for such a great, solid and healthy community. We owe folks like this a continuing debt of gratitude.

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