Living Democracy

Graves Hardware is fixture in downtown Collinsville

Outside of Graves HardwareGraves Hardware store has been a part of Collinsville’s history for decades.

Store employee Thomas Barksdale, describing the store as “the soul of the community”, said Graves Hardware has been in Collinsville for 85 years and is currently operated by the third generation of Graves.

The story began with Wilbur Vincent Graves Sr., born in 1883 just outside of Collinsville. Graves went into business with his father, Hiram Beeson Graves. Together they owned and operated a general store at Fyffe.

By 1905, Graves was appointed Fyffe postmaster, with the post office located just inside Graves Store.

In the year 1909, Graves married Marth Beulah Gilbreath. Together had two sons, W.V. Jr. and Alton. Graves operated the Graves Store until 1927. When he sold the business, he relocated to Albertville.

In 1930, W.V. Graves arrived in Collinsville and purchased Gilbreath Bros. Store.

With new merchandise brought in daily, the store was able to offer its customers the best prices. Popular brands such as Peter Shoes, Crown overalls, and Big Buck work shirts were just a few of the types of items one would expect to see in the store.

By 1940, Graves purchased property adjacent to his store from James Columbus and Roscoe Jordan. He enlarged his store to carry ready wear for men, women and children.

Five years later, W.V. Graves & Co. built a brick warehouse facing U.S. Highway 11 and College Street.  In 1946, Graves purchased the Wholesale Grocery Company from Houston Gilbeath. He moved this business into the recently finished brick warehouse just across the Collinsville School.

Inside of Graves HardwareThis new addition to the store was converted to a Super Market around 1960. R.F. Watts served proudly as the manager.

On Oct. 31, 1964, W.V. Graves Sr. locked the store as usual, went to his home and retired for the night.  He was found the following morning after peacefully dying in his sleep.

Thomas Barksdale entered the business in 1965.  The business was incorporated that year.

In the 1970s Collinsville experienced episodes of fires and floods.  On August 31, 1970, the supermarket was badly burned.  While not all merchandise was destroyed, most of the materials were damaged by the water, smoke, and/or heat.

It was decided the store would be rebuilt. In February 1971, a grand reopening was celebrated,

Operating for ten years before finally being sold to Billy Fant, the store remained just as busy as ever. Fant made the decision for Graves Store to become a hardware and building materials establishment.

W.V. Graves lll entered the business in August 1981. He remained active in the business until he passed in February of 1998.

Today, the store continues to operate on a smaller scale. During my time in Collinsville, I can agree with Graves being commonly known for carrying a wide range of products and helping others.

In fact, they have helped me out many times this summer. I have been able to find wood for raised beds, the perfect size mason jars for the Kid’s Reading Program at the Library and even paint stir sticks I needed to make puppets.

Kayla Valensit, a Collinsville Library employee, said, “They have always been there for as long as I can remember, and they’ll always help you fix whatever you need.”

Last Updated: July 11, 2016