While the store is named Stormers after the original owner, Howard Stormer, Cecil Lee owned the store for 56 years when Stormer financed the purchase for Lee so he could buy it.
When Cecil Lee passed away two years ago, his son, Dusty Lee, took over the reins.
Dusty is very proud of the legacy he is carrying on at Stormers: “At 44, this is the only job I have ever had. I was born into this job, I guess you could say. I came down here as a toddler, and by the time I was 10, I could name every kind of pipe fitting, bolt, screw, wrench, drill bit and fastener that there is. I was so prepared to do this that I almost felt like I would be crazy not to take it over. I watched Dad’s every move in how he did paperwork, etc.”
Dusty says the industry has changed more in the last 10 years than the past 60 put together due to new products and innovations, plus the impact Covid had on product availability resulted in decades worth of price increases in just a few months.
Dusty is also honored to develop the strong relationships with his wholesaler, his longtime employee, (Charlie) and his community of customers. He says they know people depend on them to offer quality solutions, competitive pricing and to be there when they need them.
To that end, Dusty tells a story of last Christmas when the temps were at 0 degrees for 3 straight nights. He opened the store on Christmas Day to help folks that were desperately out of power and their water was frozen. He said, “We had people come from all over East Tennessee to get supplies to fix water lines. The appreciation folks showed during that was incredible. It really made me feel appreciated, and showed me that I have a good work going on in this community.”
That’s the reason for the motto found on the store calendar: “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!” As long time customer, Susan Dillard, says, “It’s nice not to have to walk a mile to find a single screw and someone is there to guide you if you’re not sure what to select.”
While Dusty Lee is not sure he can live up to his father’s longevity in the business, he does have the like mindset of Harold Stormer and Cecil Lee of continuing the legacy community go-to store by finding someone in the future “with great vision to continue the store in this community.”
Stormers Hardware is located at 8618 Asheville Highway.
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