Another edition of For the Love of Lexington, and today might be the yummiest (and most practical) tour yet!
Around town, we have a couple “big box” stores, as most towns would. Food Lion is a few miles from National’s front door. Lowe’s is on the edge of town, just before your car veers onto Interstate 85. And yes, even Wal-Mart made its debut in Lexington during my high school days. Our closest Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s? More than twenty miles outside of Lexington.
So when we are after good food (and I mean, REALLY good food), we go to one place: Conrad & Hinkle. With farm fresh produce, familiar brand names (in small and fresh quantities), and the best meat in Davidson County, Conrad & Hinkle sets the table for Lexington (and surrounding) families. In 1919, Conrad & Hinkle set up its Main Street location and has kept its doors open to the community – in that same spot – ever since.
While most grocery visits include big carts, long check out lines, and endless aisles of 1,000 brands for one tortilla chip, Conrad & Hinkle is a retreat from the commercialized world of food and a reminder of what built true community and family in America. In one stop, you can pick up hand cut sirloins and freshly picked tomatoes while catching up on all the latest town news (perhaps the most important part of the errand).
You see, this establishment is more than a local grocer and butcher shop. It’s home to neighbors, sous chef to the aspiring cook, perfect provision to the still-learning southern hostess, and maker of the world’s finest pimento cheese (seriously. I wish you could taste it through the screen. Sigh).
While a familiar name pops up every now and then along the outskirts of town, Lexingtonians remain loyal to Main Street’s long standing hardware store. In 1940, a 20-year-old, entrepreneurial Ardell Lanier bought out his brother-in-law and began growing the town’s local hardware store, then on 2nd Street. Within five years, Lanier’s doubled to 3,200 square feet of retail space, dedicated to hard-to-find tools and single piece hardware (still the strategy today, Lanier’s operates on a buy-what-you-need-to-build basis!)
75 years later, the store houses more than 85,000 square feet of showroom space, retail floor, stock rooms, and offices. It’s our one stop for cake decorating tools, college game day flags, grill upgrades, fishing poles, and that one pesky nail you need to finish a new headboard (but can’t seem to find anywhere). To this day, Lanier’s Hardware remains a family owned business and the most reliable resource for all of life’s adventures.
Even if you’re just passing through, make a stop at Lanier’s and meet the faces behind the counter. They will likely recognize you as a tourist and welcome you all the same, with a plethora of suggestions for your next fishing trip. Pop over to Conrad & Hinkle for a tub of pimento cheese to go, and ask the butcher how he marinates his steak. You might learn a thing or two from these experts…