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Lawford's Hardware represents value of local businesses

In most cases, local businesses are the backbone of small towns.  These businesses help bring people together and have a great impact on the community.

One example of a local business in Elba is Lawford’s Hardware store at 333 Davis St. on the downtown square.  This store is stocked with all kinds of tools, fishing gear and just about everything needed for home repairs.

It is a store people go to either fix whatever needs fixing or to simply learn about home improvement from the friendly owners, Wayne and Betty Lawford.

The couple has owned the store since 1995. Before buying the store from his brother, Dennis Lawford, Wayne Lawford worked in the real estate business in Elba starting in 1985.

“Elba is home,” said Lawford. “I’ve lived in Elba my whole life and owning a business here has been a blessing. There have been challenges. It’s competitive here, but that is what you get when owning a business.”

Another challenge the Lawfords and other local businesses have faced in the past is flooding on the Pea River.

“Rebuilding after the floods was hard because the city was hit so hard. Water was as high as the second story of the courthouse. It was tough on us and a lot of other businesses and homes here,” Lawford said.

Now, the town is moving past those challenges. Restaurants and businesses are thriving. The Elba Theatre and the Rabbit Hole restaurant, as well as other local businesses, are bringing traffic to the downtown square.

Betty Lawford said, “There’s a lot going on here. We’ve been blessed for a while with the store, and it really is great to see other stuff happening around the square.”

The Lawfords have watched the square develop into what it is today from their hardware store, which played a role in helping rebuild home and buildings damaged in past floods.

Wayne Lawford, who also owns property in the shopping center on Claxton Avenue, said the store played a major part in rebuilding the area when it was hit hard by the flood in 1998.

He said, “It’s good to see everyone doing well.  It makes this community so much better. It makes Elba better.”

Sandy Bynum with the Elba Chamber of Commerce said the Lawford Hardware store is one of the oldest family businesses in the town. “The store is such a great example of successful entrepreneurship in Elba. People here have to start businesses on their own and build it up, and Wayne and Betty are two who have done that.”

Lawford said he has enjoyed his work at the hardware store. “We have everything here, and we’ve enjoyed providing a service to the people here. Like I said, Elba is home, but we’re also looking forward to retirement."

For now, though, if anyone has any home improvement needs or just needs to pick up some fishing supplies, Lawford Hardware store is the place to go in Elba.