A Hometown Dream
J-Town Hardware and Rental Owner Has a Special Connection to the Store
Writer / Mallory F. Wright
The good thing about big cities is the small towns and suburbs. Louisville has several small suburbs, each individualized with their own character and their own feel. Each one has their own local places to go to: the hole in the wall bars, the mom-and-pop stores and the places that make you feel right at home. J-Town Hardware store has been one of those places for multiple generations in Jeffersontown.
When Brad Carson was 14 years old, a friend in his homeroom at J-town high school who worked at the J-Town Hardware store told Brad how a remodeling was taking place, and that they might need an extra set of helping hands over at the hardware store. Carson had always wanted to work at the hardware store. He tinkered with everything at home and learned to reverse engineer just about anything. He even told his principal that one day he would buy the hardware store. The next day he went into the store and told the owner he heard they were looking for help.
“Well, what can you do?” the owner asked. “I use to hold cabinets up above my head to make sure they were steady to be installed,” Carson replied. That was enough to get Brad past the first round of “interviews” to work for the store. Over the coming weeks and months, Carson learned to install cabinets, tar roof, and paint buildings. At the end of the summer, he told the owner he would like to work there, officially. Just like before, the owner asked, “Well, what can you do?” Brad replied, “I can hold cabinets, install cabinets, tar roofs and paint buildings.” The rest became history.
Over the next 10 years, Brad spent his time learning everything he could at the hardware store that essentially became his second family. The store had been in business since the 1930s and was family owned. He knew the majority of the customers by name, just as the owners knew the workers personally. But after 10 years, it was time to move on and explore life. Brad left the hardware store and tried his hand at a couple bigger stores until finally beginning his career in construction sales. He was a natural salesman. He enjoyed his job, and he was very successful.
While building his career, Carson was also building his family. He originally met his wife, Jennifer, while they were both working at a local big-box store. Although it would take several years for him to convince her to marry him, Brad and Jennifer remained close friends. They shared their hopes and dreams for the future. Brad’s biggest dream was to have a family of his own and to own a hardware store.
Just as they say, time flies when you’re having fun, time really does fly when you’re busy, Brad’s job consisted of traveling weeks at a time. When he was in town, he spent all his time with Jennifer, and their sons, Alex and Jack. They lived a good life. Over the years, Brad would follow several websites for businesses for sale. In the summer of 2014, he answered a blind ad about a hardware store for sale. Imagine his surprise when he realized that the store for sale was the same hardware store where he worked his first job in high school. He immediately called Jennifer to share the news. She encouraged him to follow his dream. And on January 1, 2015, Brad’s life-long dream became a reality, J-town Hardware and Rental was born.
Once becoming the new owners of the newly named J-Town Hardware and Rental, the whole family was able to work together, remodeling the store and making it their own. They were careful to keep the original building with the hardwood floors intact, that dated back to the early 1900’s.
J-Town Hardware and Rental is now run by both Brad and Jennifer, with the assistance of their sons, and about eight employees who they refer to as their family. In fact, both Brad and Jennifer say their hardware family is the most vital piece of the store’s success. Even little Jack became essential to the store’s success. The first summer the store reopened under new ownership, Jack came to work with Brad almost daily. He began learning how to operate the cash register and the customers began to know Jack by name. People often come in the store and ask for Jack. He knows where everything is and remembers what people buy.
Jennifer likes to give Brad a hard time.
“He doesn’t really work,” she jokes. “He cuts up with everyone and takes a trip down memory lane with customers every day. He doesn’t consider this work.”
But it is. The store is open seven days a week and Brad is there almost every day. The store features local products first and foremost, followed by Kentucky brands and American-Made products preferably. They like to stand by their saying, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”
J-Town Hardware and Rental is located at 10513 Watterson Trail or you can give them a call at 502-267-7406.