Granite Falls hardware store owner stocks up for a hard winter

There is a nonscientific way to predict if we’ll face a brrr-cold winter this year. Dan Meeks, who owns Ace Hardware in Granite Falls, has tucked away 150 extra snow shovels, an array of sleds and gallons of ice-melting products.

He listens closely when older customers, savvy about impending ice and sleet, share their insights.

Then he places his order.

“Running a hardware store is like owning a casino,” he said. “You flip a coin to see if you should stock up on winter goods. You don’t want snow shovels selling half-off in April.”

If someone wants the weather or town scoop, stop by and chitchat with regular customers who come in to just say “Hi,” shoot the breeze, and maybe buy bullets, paint or bolts.

His building has been a hub in town for more than a century. It was built in the 1800s, Meeks said, as a burlesque hall, then a movie theater and since the 1920s, a hardware store.

When Meeks, 51, bought the store at 108 S. Granite Ave. in 1996 he brought in some ready-made customers. He owned Curbs Plus Concrete for 25 years and dissolved the business little more than a year ago.

“I got out in the nick of time.”

He got wind a couple of years back that Ace was coming to Granite Falls. Meeks worked his charm and persuaded its corporate office that his store could be converted. His was the first existing store that became an Ace in this country in eight years, he said.

“It saved the store. We have more products, better pricing,” he said. “The consumer wins, and so do I.”

Some ways of doing business stayed the same. Folks can still buy one or two nails from huge bins. Ace wanted nails sold in larger quantities.

“I stayed firm,” Meeks said. “If a customer wants three or four nails, why buy a $6 box?”

Customers, friends really, took Meeks hunting in mid-October. He said he hadn’t tromped through woods with a gun for 15 years. He said he saw two squirrels and a woodpecker.

He owes a lot to guns and ammunition, a big part of his livelihood.

“I sold 400 handguns last year. I’ve sold as many as 14 on a weekend. When the economy goes down, gun sales go up.”

Tim Cross of Granite Falls shops at Ace Hardware.

“I buy guns, ammo and home improvement items here,” Cross said. “He’s got it all. If he doesn’t, he’ll get it.”

A woman came into the store who needed to get a hand crank repaired on her travel trailer.

“I could have sold her a $60 new crank,” Meeks said. “I sold her a 27-cent pin and fixed it for her. I like to fix stuff.”

The Arlington man said he lives in the largest duplex in Washington. It’s 7,300 square feet, one floor, on 5 acres.

“My in-laws live next door,” he said. “I like everyone close.”

Born in Monterey County, Calif., his father was in sales and his mother was a housewife. They both died in 2002 of cancer. His wife Becky survived breast cancer but now has bone cancer. The couple have two daughters and two grandchildren.

He participates in the Susan G. Komen Three-Day for a Cure every year with the motor safety group. Meeks rides his black Harley, covered with stuffed pink pigs, that he gives away.

“I wear a pink bra on the last day.”

To raise money for cancer research, the upstairs at the hardware store is loaded with used clothing. Folks bring in castaways and he sells donated items for a quarter.

At the back of the store, Meeks welcomes neighborhood kids who scoot in to work on their bikes.

“Some don’t have a dad,” he said. “I say as long as the tools stay in the box, they can come in.”

If a child needs a crescent wrench, Meeks will take one off the shelf.

Upstairs there is a ghost —Emily— said to be a burlesque dancer found dead in 1912.

“She makes her presence known,” Meeks said.

There are about 50 antique Coleman lanterns hanging over one aisle, next to vintage five-quart oil cans. The worn wooden-slat floor gets oiled every two years or so.

“I’m known as the friendliest store with the squeakiest floor.”

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451,

Talk to us

More in Local News

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Craig Hess (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
Sultan’s new police chief has 22 years in law enforcement

Craig Hess was sworn in Sep. 14. The Long Island-born cop was a first-responder on 9/11. He also served as Gold Bar police chief.

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Rival gang members charged with killing Everett boy, 15, at bus stop

The two suspects are accused of premeditated first-degree murder in the death of Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Witnesses contradict gunman’s account of killing Monroe prison officer

Dylan Picard, 22, was driving on South Machias Road when Dan Spaeth approached his car to slow it down to avoid hitting a deer.

Most Read