UM Journalism Story
WATER VALLEY– When it comes to running a hardware store, Joey Hastings, owner of Sartain’s True Value, provides residents the kind of service they don’t always find at large building supply stores.
“I try to provide my customers with service that they couldn’t get from stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s,” said Hastings, 33, explaining the cordial relationship he has with customers, many of whom have shopped at the Main Street hardware outlet for decades. “If something is bought from us people know that we will be here if they have trouble with their purchase.”
Hastings took over the business in 2013 from former owner and long-time Water Valley resident Jackie Sartain, who had mentored Hastings in the business for nearly 20 years.
“It was an honor to give the store over to Joey,” said Sartain, explaining the ownership transition. “There is no harder worker or more responsible person.”
“We have all types of tools and appliances in the store,” said Hastings. “If anyone around town needs anything to be able to fix something, then this is where they come.”
The transition has been smooth, Hastings added. “There was not much different about me becoming the owner other than a little more responsibility. We have a very loyal customer base that keep us busy around the community.”
Having made deep community connections as a child, Hastings had no desire to leave the community, and except for a brief stint as a diesel mechanic for John Deere at Wade Incorporated in Batesville, he has chosen to invest his life in Water Valley.
“I have always been mechanically inclined and love working with tools,” Hastings said, referring to his time at John Deere and how he has been able to apply his skills as a mechanic to managing the hardware store. “It is very rewarding to have my own store and to be respected around the community.”
The history of this family-run business begins in 1963, when the store first opened its doors, at the time managed by Dale Sartain, at a time when residents shopped on Main Street in the evenings and the stores remained open late.
It’s been in the same location ever since, stocking appliances as well as hardware, and offers one-stop shopping when it comes to home improvement. Custo-mers, for example, can buy a dishwasher along with the plumbing supplies to install it, without having to drive to Home Depot or Lowe’s.
In addition to wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers, the store also sells mulch, birdseed, even furniture, and on most days customers can find Hastings assisting their neighbors, whether it’s selling them a bright green chainsaw or taking the time to cut door keys.
The Sartains were close to Hastings as a child, a relationship that came from a deep friendship between Joey Hastings’ grandmother and Dale Sartain. “They were like an extra set of parents for me.” Hastings recalled. “Whenever I needed something they were always the first people I went to.”
In those days Joey Hastings would accompany his grandmother to Jackie Sartain’s store, never imagining he might one day manage the aisles he used to run up and down. He never had any plans of going into hardware business.
After high school, Hastings attended North-west Community College to become a diesel mechanic, and Wade Incorporated helped pay his way through school if he agreed to work for the company at least three years upon graduation.
But he worked only a year, because Jackie Sartain paid out the balance of his contract so that Hastings would be able to return to Water Valley to work for him about 17 years ago, with the understanding that Has-tings would one-day own the store.
“This was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up,” Hastings said. The store is a fixture in this town, and to be told that I could eventually own it was something that really excited me.”
Hastings then left John Deere Tractor and started working with Sartain at True Value. He and his wife, Lindsey, have two children, ages 9 and 6.
Most of Joey’s days are spent either in the shop, or around the community doing house calls on items bought in the store that are in need of repair. Several of Water Valley’s newer residents, especially those who are restoring historic homes, are delighted to find a hardware store on Main Street, he explained.
“Many people are starting to move here and refurbish old homes.” Hastings said. “I am just glad that my store can be a fixture in the community.”