In 1947, local man Carlton Gilleland had the idea to start a hardware business just off the square in downtown Dawsonville. He and Andrew Bearden partnered to open the store in the building that is now J-Brooke hair salon on Raymond Parks Street, and a year later he bought out Bearden’s portion of the business, expanded the store and named it Dawsonville Hardware.
Now, 75 years later, the business is still going strong and is the oldest family-owned business in the county.
Dwight Gilleland, who took the business over from his father Carlton in 1977, said that Dawsonville Hardware has been a big part of his family’s story and his own.
“I was two years old when they opened, so I was very involved with dusting and taking care of customers,” Gilleland said. “’77 is when I took over officially; my dad found out that he had heart concerns at that time so he turned it over to me. But before that I was in here every day, doing things and making decisions.”
Over the years, the business has been an ACE Hardware store and a True Value Hardware store, but since 2010 it has operated as an independent hardware store buying from Orgill, the oldest hardware distributor in the country. In addition to hardware, the store also offers small engine repair services and sales.
Since the store began, Gilleland said that he’s seen the county expand and grow rapidly as new people move into the area.
“Watching it grow I think is my favorite part; I’m not one to not want us to grow,” Gilleland said. “It’s very interesting to see how we’ve evolved as a community and I’m pretty pleased with our political structure here and the outlook that people have for Dawsonville and Dawson County. A lot of new people are moving into the area and they are realizing that it’s a lot less trouble to come here than it is to drive all the way down to 400 just because they think it’s gonna be cheaper or easier to get; it’s not necessarily cheaper and not necessarily easier.”
Gilleland, whose father and uncle have both served as the mayor of Dawsonville in past years, said that his father would be proud to see how his business and the county have evolved and grown.
“My dad was the mayor back in the early 50s — all the projects that city hall has made over the past several years with the city park out here and the things that they’ve accomplished as a city would have made my dad really proud,” Gilleland said. “This county means everything to me as far as the future.”
Gilleland said that he’s incredibly grateful for the 75 years Dawsonville Hardware has been in operation and for the Dawsonville community.
“Thank you for all the years that we’ve been allowed to be a part of this community,” Gilleland said. “Thank you for your business, thank you for your love of Dawson County and thank you for your interest.”
Dawsonville Hardware is located at 18 Raymond Parks Street South in downtown Dawsonville. For more information about the store, go to https://www.dawsonvillehardware.com/.