By Richard Rourk
A Unicoi fixture since 1959, Jones Hardware officially closed its doors for good Friday, Dec. 31. Owner Kirk Spradley confirmed that the Unicoi landmark closed last week.
“It’s a sad day,” he said. “We had made a decision we were going to retire with this business and we are torn up over this.”
Spradley and his wife, Anita Spradley, purchased the business from Don and Linda Plemons, who had owned the business since 1990.
The store had been in the Jones family since 1959. The store was opened by Linda Plemons’ father, Sam Jones Jr., who went by Junior, and her uncle, Jack Jones, who left the business early in its history.
Spradley explained that a proposed Tennessee Department of Transportation project left him no choice but to close.
“TDOT has been planning to replace that bridge on Unicoi Drive coming into town and they also have a plan for the intersection of 107 and Unicoi Drive,” Spradley said. “They have a 50-foot right of way on their construction plan and when they take that 50 feet I will no longer have a parking lot. I can’t park and can’t get deliveries. I had to make a business decision.”
For Spradley, loyal customers and friendly “loafers” made the business a worthwhile venture.
“Our customers have always supported us,” Spradley said.
“We did our best to take care of everybody, even as it became a struggle to get supplies for them because of the supply chain issues. We always were committed to serving our customers,” he noted.
“Our loafers are going to feel lost as they search for a new home,” Spradley said. “They have nowhere to go now. They are truly family.
“We picked this business because we wanted to serve the community and we are going to miss our regulars and thank everyone for their patronage,” he added. “There are going to be a lot of faces we are going to miss seeing.”