A Look Back at Haynes & Gil’s Hardware

elder's hardware

Haynes Hardware and Gil’s Hardware were both longtime institutions in the community before selling to Elder’s Ace Hardware. Haynes Hardware was purchased by Elder’s in 2022 and Gil’s in 2023. 

Haynes Brothers Hardware 

In 1921, C.N. Haynes, his son, Tillman Haynes, and Jim Reed opened Haynes Hardware on the west side of Murfreesboro’s Public Square. Eventually Reed left the business, and in 1951, Tillman’s daughter, Martha Anne Haynes, and her new husband, Donald Knight, became partners in the business. By the 1980s, the Knight family took over the ownership of the business. It later passed to the next generation, Donald Knight Jr., his sister, Cheryl Knight Schmidt, and her husband, Richard Schmidt. John Schmidt, Cheryl and Richard’s son, has also worked in the store. The current store was opened in 1989 when the Haynes moved away from the Square.

Things have changed a lot from when Hanes Hardware began on the Square. They have changed a lot since the 1980s. In a story found on the Rutherford County Historical Society’s website, Knight Schmidt said, “Some things we carry now … weren’t even in existence [when the store began].” She remembered the store selling plows and wedding china when she was a child. Staff would have to run down to the basement or up to the attic to find merchandise. And the annual Christmas parade would run past their doors. But now, after 101 years in the hands of one family, it is passing to another family, the Glenn Family. 

Sam Henson is the manager of the Murfreesboro store now, taking over the reins from Richard Schmidt. Henson has been with Elder’s since 2016, and he came to Murfreesboro to manage the transition in October 2022. 

On the company website Henson said of his job, “My favorite thing about working at Elder’s is being able to come to a job I love. No two days are the same, helping customers with projects or finding a solution to their problem. Elder’s has a great set of values for the way they operate, making them one of the best companies I have ever been a part of.” 

Gil’s Hardware 

Gil’s Hardware in Smyrna, Tennessee was once upon a time known as “Gilsville Family Center.” Brought to Smyrna from Fargo, North Dakota when he was stationed at Seward Air Force Base in 1952, Gilbert Olerud bought a small grocery store with two gas pumps that sat on the corner of Sam Davis Road and Jefferson Pike and settled in the community after leaving the service. In 1955, he built Gil’s Supermarket, which was similar to an old dry good store. Initially, hardware was just an aisle in the grocery store, but in 1975 it became its own business. Gil’s Hardware was born. After Olerud’s passing, the store was run by his daughter, Ginny Williams, until its recent sale to Elder’s.

“I have known Tom Glenn for many years through Ace Hardware corporate,” said Williams. “I would not have wanted the store to go to anyone else. I like that it is one family passing it to another family who have been in the business even a bit longer than we have.”

Chris Atkinson is the new manager of the Smyrna store, following in the footsteps of Williams. He comes from the construction business. 

Elder’s Ace Hardware 

The Glenns are the owners of Elder’s Ace Hardware. Elder’s Ace Hardware began in 1919 as Glenn Brother’s Hardware in Chickamauga, Georgia. Elder Glenn and his brother Archer joined their father at Glenn Brothers’ Hardware in 1955, according to the Rome News Tribune. But Elder ended up opening his own store 53 years ago with two partners. His sons have since taken over the business, with Tom Glenn serving as President and Grif Glenn is the Vice President and Controller.

Tom Glenn has long been involved with Ace Hardware Corporation and served on the board from 1996 until 2012, including five years as President. Currently, he serves as President of Elder’s Ace Hardware. Their headquarters is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but they are fast expanding in Middle Tennessee, including recently purchasing a store in East Nashville. 

Customer and Community Service 

All three businesses have a long history of great customer service and community involvement in their respective markets. Part of the Ace Hardware network, they carry a full complement of gardening, home repair and maintenance items. 

Elder’s became one of the earliest stores in the Southeast to affiliate with Ace Hardware Corporation. Being a part of the Ace Hardware Corporation, which merged with True Value, allows customers to order just about anything. While the affiliation gives the business the purchasing power of a large brand, Elder’s makes a point of having the store continue to have the feel of a family business. 

The Glenn family continues the traditions at the two stores located in Rutherford County. There are currently 30 Elder’s Ace Hardware stores in Georgia and Tennessee. 

One thing is the same for all of the companies, they work hard – and have worked hard — every day to earn their customer’s trust and to be the most helpful place to shop. Long-time customers still pop into the store and get a friendly hello from the sales associates as they walk in.


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