This year, Leeper Hardware in Jefferson County, Tennessee, celebrated 70 years of service to the community! Proud third generation owner and operator, Brian Williams, spoke with fondness recalling the company and the celebration they had to honor 70 years of business. On May 3rd and 4th, 2019, the hardware store opened its doors wide to welcome the citizens and friends, past and present, of Jefferson County. The celebration brought the community into the store, and many stories were recounted from the inception of the hardware store until the present. Mention was made of $0.05 Cokes, individuals who purchased their first guns, to sharing about founder, R.J. Leeper. During the 70th celebration, patrons shared stories of how they would come into Jefferson City to shop on Fridays and Saturdays. One story shared was of R.J. Leeper when he needed to deliver a stove to a client later in the day, and tells of how Mr. Leeper tended to run the hardware store. On one particular day, a 15-year-old, William Bradley, had been walking through the store, when Mr. Leeper turned to William and asked him, “What are you doing later today?” William replied that he had no plans. The decision was made, and William was hired to help deliver the stove to the customer that day.
After this story had been shared, many additional stories began to be told, similar to the ones in the video below.
In 1949, R.J. Leeper opened the store on East Broadway as a specialty shop in Jefferson City. From there, it has been reinvented by the family in order to keep the tradition alive. It has taken a dedicated person to do the work of maintaining the tradition of classic hardware venue, while keeping the store relevant to the modern needs of today’s clients. This is evident, as seen on the website where the company offers many How-To-Videos for tricky home repairs and product demonstrations.
Knowing that the store runs on more than products and sales, Brian Williams has dedicated his life to the store and ensuring quality customer service. It is easy to see that Brian has a passion for the work he does, and you can hear it when he discusses the store throughout the years. This was not always the case for Brian, however. When Brian entered college, he studied Business Management, with a concentration in Marketing. He wanted to do something away from the family business and assumed he would go into Landscaping, Lawn Care, or be a Missionary. When he graduated, he went off for a year to do mission work, then returned and married his wife, Ashley Kirkpatrick. He moved several times with Ashley, but the two inevitably returned to Jefferson City, so that Ashley could finish her clinical rotations as a Nurse Practitioner. Being back in Jefferson County and around the hardware store started to affect him. Without a clear idea of what he wanted to do, he took time to process and pray to see if taking over the family business was really his calling. Within a year, he had his answer, and you will find him serving in this unexpected mission field within the aisles of Leeper Hardware with joy. Over the years that Brian has been there, he has realized that his talents truly lie in the work of selling, product knowledge, working with people, and sharing his family’s long tradition of love for others and the community. Working at Leeper has become his calling.
Wherever possible, Leeper Hardware reaches out to the local area to serve the people who come into the store. Customers know this firsthand and often comment on their quality service, expert advice, and competitive pricing. It is not uncommon to hear that many in the community feel a strong connection to the store. So connected, in fact, that one man decided he wanted to have his wedding conducted at Leeper Hardware! Although this is not the first account of a couple tying the knot in the hardware store, it certainly remains the most unique. The reason this was so original, besides the obvious location for the ceremony, was that after the groom and bride were married in the paint section, the groom started advertising for Leeper Hardware! These ‘punmercials’ can be found on YouTube. Luckily, Brian had brought in the press, so someone was able to catch the antics!
When Brian Williams is not helping customers solve their plumbing problems or discounting heaters in the winter to help those less fortunate, you can find him hanging out with his 4 kids and wife. The Williams have been married for 11 years and have three boys aged nine, five, and three, and one seven-year-old girl. Brian and his family play Legos, jump on the trampoline, play on the waterslide, and genuinely love to spend time with each other.
When you talk to Brian Williams, you will notice the compassion he has for the community and recognize that his happiness and servanthood comes from giving. He spends quality time ensuring his customers and sales associates understand products and services and loves the aspects of his job completely. And, he will tell you that he owes all of it to the glory of God.