Small Business Spotlight: Lann Hardware, Aberdeen
by Laura Smith
Published: May 30,2010
A history in hardware
The Lann family has been serving the people in and around Aberdeen for 130 years
For more than 130 years, the Lann family in Aberdeen has been in the hardware business.
The original store opened in 1879 with Capt. H.J.B. Lann and a man named Carter as the founders.
“Capt. Lann was my great-grandfather, and he’d just come back from the Civil War,” said Walter Lann Jr., who today owns the store with his son, Walter Lann III.
Capt. Lann was a farmer who lived in the Athens community, which was then the county seat of Monroe County, and Carter was a hardware salesman from East Tennessee.
“Captain Lann knew everybody, and Carter must’ve had the money and the knowledge, so they teamed up, established a hardware store and did well,” Lann said.
The business thrived, and the Lanns bought the Carters interest in the business after Carter’s son killed a doctor in an Aberdeen hotel in a jealous rage, Lann said.
“They left here after that,” he said. “There was no fight. Our family never heard from them after that.”
Under the Lanns’ direction, business grew as the decades passed to include lumber and farm equipment sales, and a funeral home.
The only other change in the business occurred from family discord among the Lanns, many of whom were distant relatives and lived outside of Mississippi.
Walter Lann Sr. was the largest stockholder, and he walked away from the family business. Within a week or maybe a month – Lann Jr. isn’t sure exactly how long – the hardware shop was closing and hosting an auction.
On that day, Lann’s father was ready: he and another relative opened Lann Chemical and Supply across the street. The chemical and hardware supply stores are separate entities today, but both remain in business.
“My father was a strict businessman, and I thank God for that today,” Lann said. “He ran a tight ship.”
Today, Walter Lann III is at his father’s side, keeping the family tradition alive.
“Since he got big enough to trail me, he was here,” the elder Lann said. “It’s all he’s ever known, working here.”
Lann said the business remains intact today because of hard work.
“That’s all we know,” he said. “We make a living servicing the community.”
The store stocks plumbing and electrical supplies, bolts, screws, paint, grills and piping.
“If we can’t service it, we won’t sell it,” Lann said.
The store has been updated with computers, and Lann has seen other changes in the 55 years he’s worked there.
“There’s so much packaged stuff today,” he said. “You see screws and bolts sold by the box.”
The store has remained independent despite the prevalence today of big box retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to own our own business. We will be independent – that’s the way we like it…They can’t offer the service we do,” Lann said. “Our employees know the hardware business…We wait on every customer.”
For example, customers may purchase a faucet set from a home improvement store, but will come to Lann’s for help with the parts to install it.
“That’s the key to my business: service,” he said. “We can’t do it without the trust the community has in us.”
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