Odom family aces role as Chatom’s retail center; family has owned Andrews Hardware for 60 years

Since 1938, Andrews Hardware & Seed Store Inc. has served the people of Chatom, the county seat of Alabama’s Washington County. It’s where everyone gets their plumbing supplies, Yeti coolers and drinkware, boots and even bridal gifts. Originally owned by the Andrews family, the town’s hardware/everything store remains in the hands of locals.

My grandfather (Lilburn Odom) came to Chatom in 1940 to run the store and later on my family bought it out from the Andrews sometime in the ‘60s,” Jon Odom said of the family owned and operated venture. “My dad, his older brother and younger sister oversaw it along with my grandfather.”

While the Odoms own the Chatom store, the Andrews family owns and operates other hardware stores under the Andrews name in deep southwest Alabama.

Dwain “Cat” Odom, Jon’s 72-year-old father, continues to answer the phone at the 92 Granade Ave. business and help customers find the right thingamajig they need, working right beside sons Jon and Eric. Since 2017, those three have fully owned and operated the business. Jon said he and Eric work 50-plus hours a week, while their father clocks in about 40 hours a week. At times, you can find them three abreast at the hardware counter in the back of the expansive store that fronts an entire block.

Jon, Cat and Eric Odom rarely stand still in their Chatom hardware store. They stop long enough to pose near the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, which are tax free statewide during the fourth weekend of February. Before and after weather emergencies, the store is a lifeline for the community.

While the business continues to grow and progress with the times, Cat said he leaves operating the “computers,” aka the registers, to his sons.

Andrews Hardware converted from a True Value to an ACE store in 2017. They welcomed the change with a remodel, celebrating the new look in November 2018. While the store got a facelift, the friendly faces that customers recognize stayed the same.

Most or our employees are long term. We have employees who stay with us until they retire,” Jon said. “Arthur White, one of the guys in the back, has been with us 22 or 23 years and Daniele Roberts, who helps in the front of the store, has been there about the same length of time too.”

The store employs 13 full time and 6 part time.

We try to provide a good service,” said Jon. “No telling the number of times I have opened up the store on a Sunday to get a pump or water heater, because that stuff just happens and can’t wait,” he said, describing exactly what owning a one-stop shop entails.

It’s rewarding to get to help people and actually see you’re doing some good,” Jon said explaining that the business strives to be an active member of the Chatom community. The ways Andrews Ace Hardware reaches outside of its walls includes making donations to high schools, little leagues and other organizations.

With the community’s support and expanding inventory, Jon doesn’t see any sign of slowing down and hopes to expand in the future.

There for The Community Before and After the Storm

MEMBER SINCE 1992: Andrews Ace Hardware at 92 Granade Ave. just off Alabama 17 in Chatom is open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Visit on Facebook @andrewsinchatom

Through the pandemic and the past year in general, business at Andrews Hardware boomed. The town of Chatom and its hardware store are no strangers to the severe weather Alabama experiences. Along with other storms, Hurricane Zeta greatly impacted the area and even dismantled the “E” in the relatively new ACE store sign.

We sold just north of 100 generators” in the last five months of 2020, said Jon. “We were threatened by (Hurricane Laura) in August and sold a bunch then and when Zeta came through in October, we sold even more.”

The Zeta damage wasn’t repaired overnight, as many homeowners and businesses in the area continued to make improvements with the help of the store well into December and  January. “We sold shingles and metal roofing, because a lot of people got roof damage,” he said, so much so that the stock received went out as soon as it arrived. On Dec. 10, the president issued a major disaster declaration for seven Alabama counties, including Washington County. The declaration makes businesses and nonprofits in the covered areas eligible for SBA loans.

10TH ANNUAL SEVERE WEATHER SALES TAX HOLIDAY

Alabama’s 10th annual severe weather tax holiday from Feb. 26 to 28 is a time to stock up and save on the necessities at stores like Andrews Ace Hardware. State officials purposely designed the three-day, tax-free weekend to occur before the height of both tornado and hurricane seasons.

Flashlights, extra gas cans and generator fuel” are among the top sellers at Andrews Ace Hardware when a storm travels through, Jon said. During the tax holiday, the state’s four-percent sales tax is waived on common emergency supplies costing less than $60 as well as generators costing $1,000 or less.

LEARN MORE
about Alabama’s Feb. 26-28. 2021
severe weather preparedness sales tax holiday

Story by Katie Brown
Photos by Nancy King Dennis

This article will appear in the February 2021 Alabama Retailer