MARENGO — Hinkle’s Marengo Hardware recently celebrated their fifth anniversary, and it’s a valued local store — and more than a hardware store.
“It’s kind of a gathering. place in the mornings,” Owner Wayne Hinkle said. “It’s more than a hardware store, and when the weather’s nice we sit outside and drink coffee out there.”
The store has been a hardware for as long as Hinkle, who was raised in Marengo, can remember. At one time there was an apartment above the store.
“When I first opened up, a guy came in and said, ‘You probably don’t know who I am; but 72 years ago today, I was born upstairs.’ That’s pretty cool,” Hinkle said. “And I did know who he was, and he’s still a customer today.”
He retired from South Central after teaching and coaching for 30 years. He taught elementary and junior high math and OWA; he was also the high school principal at South Central and Cardington.
He has been married to Karen Hinkle for over 40 years. She retired after 35 years from teaching music locally; but like him, it’s not quite a retirement.
“She in about five bands right now. I do this and she has the bands,” he said.
They have three sons: Kevin, a professor at the University of Dayton; Warren, employed by Johnson & Johnson; and Keifer, a teacher and coach at North Canton Hoover.
“So I wasn’t going to retire-retire; I was going to do something,” he said. “My dad has a construction business and I was working for him. Before this closed [the former Marengo hardware] I tried to buy it and I couldn’t get the price I wanted. Then it was empty, and I thought about it and discussed it with my dad; and I thought it would be a good idea.”
It was a good idea.
He opened with a mere $36,000 in inventory.
“I came in here and there was one little copper elbow sitting on the shelf there, and I said to my salesman, ‘One copper elbow?’ He said, ‘Well, you said you wanted one of everything. And that’s what we did. We got one of everything and that’s what we opened up with.”
And now the inventory is more than quadrupled.
“It’s the people that come in — the community and the support. We try to sell everything: bolts, nuts, feed, burning pellets, grilling pellets. We try to sell as many different items as we can. If someone wants something, or needs something, we can order it,” Hinkle stated. There’s considerable demand for the animal feed and the wood-burning pellets for wood stoves.
He said in a 22 mile radius there isn’t another hardware supply source. That’s why he tries to keep as much inventory as he can. Builders and contractors contribute to the demand on his inventory, in addition to the local homeowners.
In 2021, he opened a paint store directly across the street. The paint store has it’s challenges. Some of it can be attributed to COVID and the supply chain issues all retailers are confronted with, but the paint shortage was also impacted by an unusual freeze in Texas in 2021. The freeze slowed production of petroleum, a critical ingredient for paint. Hinkle said the supply was also impacted when a paint producer in Columbus burned.
“It’s just hard to get paint. The one ingredient in the paint that we sell is very hard to get right now. At this time, I don’t feel like I want to lower the quality of paint. Everybody likes it [Medallion] and I don’t want to go down a notch and get a cheaper paint. I’m going to wait it out a while,” he said.
“Contractors want primer for dry wall. We sell field marking paint, swimming pool paint, we sell all of it,” he added.
Additional services and goods available at the hardware include glass cutting, rototiller rentals, gardening supplies; and they service and repair mowers. They also sell hay, straw, and bedding.
“It’s just a little more than a mom and pop store: that’s what I thought I was going to have, have some fun with it; and it has exploded. The pandemic helped. Everyone stayed home and had work to do at home,” he said. Every year the business has grown.
Yes. Hinkle’s Marengo Hardware is more than a hardware store. It’s a success story, too.