Acting President Roy rang the meeting into order and Joe Preddy gave a most elegant and heartfelt grace.

Lasagna and salad were a great change from the soup and sandwich of ur summer meals.  The lasagna was terrific.

Fines and Happy Dollars:

Jack Barnes got thing started with two happy dollars and a fine.  The happy dollars were for seeing 4 deer near his apple tree(anterless), and a huge porcupine(also anterless).  Afine was prospoed on Tom Babic, but failed for lack of a second.

Karl fined "Dick Huskes" , seconded by Ron Parnigoni The 1 and 9 fine was defended by Mr Huskes, who looked amazingly likeTom Babic. Don't judge a face by the badge it is wearing.  After a defenseless defense, the fine passed.

Roy entertained the idea of fining Sargeant-at-Arms, Ted becasue the banners were not up.  Ted, in a quick witted defense, turned the tables on Acting President Roy who passed the gavel to Elizabeth.  Ted argued that since President Bill hangs the banners, it would be the responsibility of the acting president to hang the banners.   The fine passed and Roy paid it.

Karen Lane gave 5 happy dollars.  She thanked Roy for his appearance before the city council to announce and promote our program series, "Discovering Downtown Barre on tuesday evening.  She also thanked Carol for her role in the Joint Dinner over the years, inclduing this year, and to Karl for being the offical photographer for the event.  Still happy, she announce the A Cappella singing event at the Labor Hall on October 6th.


Breakfast Chairman Ron Parnigoni presented a check in the amount of $10,565.42.  Rlon noted that we served 1300 people and this is the largest donation ever given from the breakfast event.  He was pleased that Rotary vould give this check to support our library.  Karen was delighted to hear ron refer to the Aldrich Library as "our library", and she thanked Rotary for this "extraordinary gift".


Shane let us know that the TD Bank is sponsoring a mixer on October 17 at the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce and Rotarians are invited. (Yes, he paid a fine here)

Carol announced that there are a few tickets left for the Joint service club dinnerat the Canadian Club next October 9th and that Guy Isabelle is the quest speaker.  This is the 32nd annual dinner with more than 200 citizens having been honored.

Today's Program:

Discovering Downtown Barre

Barre Rotary Club Programs

Nelson Hardware

188 North Main Street

Barre, Vermont


Bob Nelson, owner of Nelson Hardware spoke to the Barre Rotary Club at their weekly luncheon.


Bob’s Great Great Grandfather was a farmer in Middlesex at Three Mile Bridge road.


 His Great Grandpa, Milo Algernon sold and serviced International Harvesters, raw milk, and a saw mill.  He lost everything in the 1927 flood including four railcars of tractors.  Although he had to declare bankruptcy, International Harvester sent him another shipment of the tractors.  He was able to pay back everything he owed, and he did it all from a wheel chair.  He lost the use of his legs when his milk wagon flipped over.


Following in the family tradition, Bob’s Grandpa Meriden moved to Montpelier and sold Philco radios and portable appliances.  The local draft board refused to draft him because he was the only person in the area who could service and repair coolers, refrigeration, and milking machines.


In 1955, Carroll, Bob’s father, and his brother Milo opened Nelson Brothers on State Street. They sold and serviced major appliances, expanding to Barre in 1969 where Studio Place Arts is now located.


After a fire in 1972, they bought the building next door in Montpelier.  In 1978, a store was opened in Randolph, but it closed a few years later.


Bob graduated from Montpelier High School where he played football and sang.  He began working full time at the family business now located at 188 North Main Street.   Deciding not to attend college, his parents gave him stock in the company as he worked there, in lieu of tuition.  By 1996, Bob and his wife, Linda purchased control of Nelson’s.  For 20 years, he has been a singer in a local band, Native Tongue.


In 1990, they added firearms to their selection of goods.  Although a smaller part of the business now, they still hold their firearms license.


Over the years, they have expanded the size of the store, flipping space where Pool world is and they became an Ace Hardware store.  In 2008, the last expansion added their House wares department.


Bob is proud of how his store front looks, but says it was all his Dad’s vision.  Over the years, they have struggled with water problems, Irene, Sandy and the May flooding of 2011, they had 15 ft. of water in the basement, losing $150,000 in goods in less than two years.


In the last 16 months, they’ve had several “resets”.   Light bulbs are a challenge because the changes come quickly.  They have changed the power tool line, all the electrical supplies, cleaning products, and paint applicators.  Coming up is a reset in the paint department, where they carry the Kensington line of paints.


Nelsons has worked to keep the same price points as they change product lines, and offering quality products has always been important.


A carry-over from the Nelson Brother days is their huge houseware’s selection.  They carry aprons, cookware, kitchen gadgets, glassware, gifts, local cards and candy.  Also found at the store are gas grills, phones, faucets, bathroom accessories, water heaters, disposers, lawn and garden items, electrical, plumbing, and paint supplies.  And they have regional sports selections.  They sell and service vacuum cleaners too.


Nelson Hardware has consistently ranked at the top in customer service.  The store has been voted “Best of the Best” hardware store in The Times Argus polls for 5 years.  The Small Business Association honored them as “The Vermont Family Business of the Year for 2013”.


Bob is proud of his staff, noting that Annette has been at the store for 22 years and Kelly for 15 years.  Mr. B is an institution and is famously known as Mr. Fixit, and he is happiest when he’s solving a problem for a customer. 


Several Rotarians, including Carol Dawes and Karl Rinker praised the store’s staff as being phenomenal, and always helpful. 


Responding to a question, Bob said he is a landlord too, with eleven apartments over the store.


Karen Lane said she thinks it is great that he is bringing the “younger generation” along by offering part-time jobs where teens can learn a great work ethic about customer service. 


Karen, and George Milne also thanked Bob for his commitment and leadership in the Barre community.


Bob ended his talk by saying that at Nelson Hardware,  “The customer comes first.”