Hardware Heaven

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What is it about that dusty old hardware store in the center of town that makes people think they can make anything? They wander aisles, curious, wondering what they will find around the next corner. And sure enough, they always did if they had the right owner working the shop.

Ever since he was a young boy, Wyatt enjoyed the smell of wood and the feel of old tools in his hands. He breathed it in like perfume as he worked alongside his father in Sonoma’s only hardware store called Dalton Hardware, while his mother was in charge of the family ranch on the outskirts of town. As soon as Wyatt was able to see over the counter, he was a store clerk, counting change, taking inventory, and watching his father like a hawk. He learned everything he knew about small town business at his father’s feet. But he learned about wood from the steady flow of local carpenters. Wyatt paid attention to what they bought, making sure to ask exacting questions that would make them eager to share the tricks of the trade. He fell in love with those tools, making sure the store was stocked with every kind imaginable, especially the ones that were hard to find.

For years, Wyatt and his father kept the store running like a well-oiled machine, listening to each one of their customers, becoming a landmark as the town grew up around them. The hardware store was the epicenter. Wyatt knew every face that crossed the threshold, every single name, and could sometimes tell what they were looking for even before they knew themselves.

After his father retired, Wyatt wasn’t sure about being a shopkeeper. In truth, he had dreamed of having his own woodworking business, building furniture and making art with wood. When Daine Shepherd came to town and took up residence in Wyatt’s old trailer, he believed he had met a kindred spirit. Even though they were years apart, he saw something in Daine that reminded him of himself. He was easy to talk to and cared deeply for the craft of woodworking, eager to learn. They struck up a fast friendship and Wyatt began connecting him to the people of Sonoma, weaving him into the fabric of the day-to-day. With Wyatt’s prized stamp of approval, Daine stayed pretty busy, and became christened, The Barn Doctor.

Read More about the Dalton Hardware Store in our new novel, Home Sweet Sonoma