Sarah Carter knew she had the nuts and bolts to open her second hardware store.
After opening Sarah's Friendly True Value in Elmwood in February 2012, Carter said Tony Rolando, a business relationship manager for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, posed the idea to open a second in Canton.
The city, he said, could use a traditional hardware store like the ones True Value
So, she went for it.
"I feel like it was what I was always supposed to do, so it's not a hard decision," said Carter, a Brimfield native. "Canton was really interested, and Tony Rolando-— great guy — said, when you get done with Elmwood, Canton would sure like a hardware store. So I got Elmwood open, and then in April, I called Tony and started that ball."
After nearly a year of planning and working with Rolando, the city and the Spoon River Partnership for Economic Development, Sarah's Friendly True Value is set to open in the Odd Fellows building in mid to late March.
Currently, Carter and her employees are waiting for one more truck of inventory. Then, they will begin pricing the merchandise, cleaning and finishing the floors.
While they are just over a month away from opening, Carter said establishing this store has gone smoother than the process to open her first, especially in terms of stocking and displaying items.
"Since this wasn't my first rodeo, this process has been a little bit easier," she said.
Carter added she's appreciated the help she's received from Rolando, City Attorney Chrissie Peterson, Mayor Kevin Meade and Missy Towery, executive director for the Spoon River Partnership, among
"We've just had a lot of positive feedback," she said. "Everybody's excited."
"I think it is tremendous," Rolando said. "I am a lover of downtown Canton, having been in business for 26 years, so I am thrilled to see good old-fashioned retail come into Canton."
"It's been fun working with Sarah, the Spoon River Partnership and the city on this project, and I am looking forward to her opening date,"
Nevertheless, there are still some issues to "hammer out." Carter said the sidewalks need to be fixed, and she is concerned about having sufficient parking for customers. Sarah's Friendly True Value will share a parking lot with neighboring Brown's Snappy Service.
"Parking is going to be a problem, but that's a good thing," she said.
Still, Carter is excited to see how her store will impact the community.
"I find that hardware stores tend to be a hub of activity, and so all I see is people coming in and out of the hardware store thinking, 'Yeah, I'm kind of hungry, I'm going to go over and have lunch,' or people coming out of the (nearby) Mexican restaurant thinking, 'I need a box of nails' or whatever it is.
"Business begets business, activity promotes other activity, and it just creates energy--it's just going to help every business downtown I think."
In addition to carrying traditional hardware items, Carter said she's leasing an adjacent lot for a lawn and garden center. And once settled, she wants to implement services unique to the needs of Canton.
"What we'd like to see here in the six, twelve, eighteen months is really get a feel for Canton and see what would be nice niche business to put inside the store. I don't know what that is yet -- a lot of people have suggested tool rental and equipment rentals…but we'd like to create a niche hear of something."
Though the store will open in March, Carter said she will host a grand opening celebration in June with giveaways and other deals.
Still, this store might not be her last, Carter said.
"I would like to see Sarah's Friendly True Value continue to grow at other locations," she said.