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Small hardware store expands with sweat equity
Lloyd Callison, co-owner of Clinton Hardware, takes an early morning customer call.

(Clinton, KY) - Lloyd Callison, co-owner of Clinton Hardware with his wife, Sharon, calls running a hardware store a dream come true. He and his wife acquired the small corner hardware store almost three years ago when the last owner retired. Callison purchased a building next door and is expanding the hardware store by moving the main building "two doors down."

Callison, his wife, and in-laws have converted the former pizza restaurant into a modern brightly lit hardware store. Callison, a plumber, did the plumbing work and his father in law, Ralph Patey a master electrician, did the electrical work. The family worked on finishing the floors, cleaning and rehabbing the building.

Clinton Hardware has been on the corner of N. Jefferson and W. Clay for 85 years. The newer building was last an Italian restaurant. Its owner moved out of town and the building sat empty for several years. The two sites are connected by what was once a fire alley, a narrow corridor between the buildings. At some point in the past, the fire alley was built into a storage area.

Callison said his old building, constructed of local brick, is deteriorating. The brick was not glazed which would have preserved it. It is disintegrating back into sand. He consulted contractors and engineers who told him the same thing. He could put a hundred thousand dollars into stabilizing the building with no guarantee that the money wouldn't be wasted.

The new Clinton Hardware boasts aisles full of nails, screws, elbow joints and paint. The walls are decorated with shovels and varieties of hammers. It sports a new office and a fancy bathroom. Callison's mother in law, Lou Patey, who helps out at the store, said that Sharon used "Wal-Mart bags to smear on the paint." The result is a wall that looks marbleized.

Callison said that he tries to keep his prices competitive with the big box stores. In some cases, he said his prices are lower than Lowe's. Callison is plumber by trade and he has stocked a large variety of plumbing supplies.

The old store is easily recognizable by the six foot metal rooster chained to the sidewalk outside the door. There is no word whether he will move to the new location. Callison bought the chicken for his wife as a gift. It has become a landmark.

Lloyd said that the business made a profit the first year. This year has been slower but he is not discouraged. He said his vendors tell him that sales are down all over. He still expects to make a profit this year.

A formal dedication and grand opening is planned for sometime in November. Lloyd and Sharon are still tweaking and unpacking.. He counted the available spaces and comes up with seven and he says when there is something going on at the courthouse across the street, he doesn't have that many.

The old store will be used for storage - until Lloyd fears, it falls down as the building across the street is poised to do. If that happens, Lloyd has a plan. He'll turn the space into a parking lot for his customers.

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