Hardware stores, like Trahan’s Hardware on Common St. in Lake Charles, LA, are the last of a dying breed. Opening their doors in 1966, the Trahan family has been offering hardware supplies, along with just about everything a person could possibly want or need, including top-notch personal service from a family that cares about its customers, and fellow local businesses, such as Traub Supply.
Driving up, you'll park in a gravel parking lot shaded by mature oak trees. The exterior of the building is adorned with colorful banners (not in this picture, but they're there, I promise.) from many of their vendors, such as our Traub Supply duck wax banner. When the doors open, you’re immediately hit with a nostalgic smell that brings you back to the days when you went to the hardware store with your grandpa. It’s a smell of wood, tools, rubber boots, leather gloves, chaudière noires, metal, and good living. You don’t get the same smell from a big box store, and that smell is priceless.
I first approached Carolyn Trahan (current owner) back in 2014, asking if she would be willing to carry Traub Supply’s line of duck wax, and she immediately obliged. Trahan’s was the first store to carry our duck wax. She looks at you and she reads you. She’s checking to see if you’re going to be someone she can talk to on a monthly or weekly basis to restock inventory, regardless of your price. She wants to deal with good, honest people because that’s how the family has built their business. Since I was new to the wholesale and retail business, she wasn’t shy about letting me know my prices were too high. I listened, and we got things down to where they needed to be.
We’re now in 2022, and she so graciously became our first store to carry our own line of hot sauce. It’s currently called Traub Supply’s “Super Sauce,” but I can see a name change coming, due to various reasons. We’re thinking about changing it to Traub Supply’s “Calcasieu” sauce. Anyway, in true Carolyn Trahan style, she had no problem carrying our sauce, but she immediately told me she wasn’t buying it from me. “You can sell it here, and I’ll give you the money, but I’m not buying from you,” she told me. As always, I kind of laughed, and she explained that she never had luck selling hot sauce out of her hardware store. I agreed to the fair deal, but I’ll let y’all in on a little secret, she’s buying it from me now.
Admittedly, a hardware store is not the best place to sell and get the word out about a food product, but I figured since she sold everything else and she was always so good to us, I’d give her first right of refusal. In return, I decided to informally advertise for Trahan’s Hardware on social media and our website.
So next time you are needing that special tool, crabbing string, weather vane, barbecue pit, or that plumbing part that you’re not sure what it’s called, drive on down to Trahan’s Hardware and pull your car or truck under the oaks. Watch out for the cat as you walk in, and in a short time, Ms. Carolyn or one of her staff will help you find whatever it is you need. And when you’re checking out, grab a bottle of Traub Supply’s hot sauce. It’s a little heat, a little tangy, and tons of flavor. As Americans, let’s do our part to make sure establishments like this live on for many years to come.