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Never Closed for a Snow Day in 75 Years

A.K. Hepler Cash Feed Store company truck with snow chains on the tires, pictured at the old Painter’s Mill / Stanton Mill (purchased by Hepler’s) in New Stanton circa 1950.  (Photo: Hepler’s archives.)


SNOW DAY means different things to different people.  There is the obvious youthful “No school!” response.  A day to sleep in, followed by sled riding, snow fort building, and hot chocolate drinking.  And even into adulthood there is “The office is closed today!” reaction – an often welcome break from the daily grind.  But depending on your situation, feelings around a snow day can be quite mixed.

You may have a big presentation or project due in two days, and now you’ll only have one day in the office to prepare (unless you can work from home, which is quite possible these days).  You may be a senior citizen who lives alone, dreading the follow-on snow removal process. You may be a landscaper who plows snow in the winter, happy for the additional income to help carry your business through the off-season.  You may be a caretaker for someone undergoing life-enduring medical treatments, and wondering if you can reach the medical facility, and if they will even be open.

Let’s not forget all the “Essential Employees” on-call in various lines of work.  First, a large tip of the hat to all our public employees who often bear the brunt of so many complaints, yet work tirelessly to remove snow, keep emergency routes open, and maintain public water and sewer lines in the coldest of temperatures at all hours.  Then there is the team of administrators behind them that help orchestrate the bad weather plans.  And the paid and volunteer staff of all first responder teams – police, fire, rescue, EMTs, and dispatch centers.  And of course, our medical providers (for people and pets), from the receptionist at the front desk to the nurses, doctors, and various technicians who are always on call.

Don’t overlook our tow truck companies and insurance agencies (local and afar) who standby for our phone calls when we run out to get milk, prescriptions, diapers, cat food, or toilet paper, and end up in a ditch.  And gas station attendants open 24/7/365.  There are surely countless other professionals that go unnamed here, and are seldom recognized.

And what about the hardware store?  I’m talking about the mom-and-pop, family-owned, local, small town hardware stores.  (Not to discount today’s big box stores, though Lowe’s has roots in a family store dating back to the 1870s).  The local hardware stores that always seem to have that “thing” you need when no one else has it.  The ones that are always open no matter the weather.  They fall under the title of “essential employees” too.  Besides the snow blowers, shovels, and ice melt, they have heat tape for your pipes, kerosene for your heaters, generators when the power goes out, and chains for your tires in the harshest winter storm.

For the family hardware store, sometimes “snow day” turns into “Take your son/daughter to work day.”  Or from the child’s perspective, it doesn’t mean sleeping in.  It might mean (though begrudgingly) a chance to earn a few dollars helping dad shovel snow, salt walkways, make the coffee, assist customers, or man the register until other employees can arrive.  (Don’t tell to the child labor law enforcement team…)

We’d like to take a minute to thank all of the Hepler’s Hardware store employees, who for decades (some for 25 to 50 years!) have been essential to our business, and helping meet the community’s needs on days like today.  Special recognition to our owner / manager Rob who arrives early before all the employees and anticipates the needs of the operation.  Who drives out of state to purchase extra ice melt, generators, and wood pellets the day before a storm to ensure supplies are in stock.  Who gets up at 4:00 in the morning to navigate the icy roads and warm up the building before the employees arrive.  And who has even been known to spend the night in the office on the eve of a blizzard, just to ensure the store is open for business.  And to the family business who has never been closed due to weather, not once, in 75 years (as far as institutional knowledge can confirm) – we are grateful.

That is what a snow day means to our family business.  What does a snow day mean to you?