Back in business: Berlin Hardware and Farm Supply carries on tradition of Walker’s Corner

Bruce Bentley and Edwin Dixon welcome customers to Berlin Hardware and Farm Supply, carrying on the community tradition of Walker’s Corner. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

BERLIN, Ala. – The Walker family’s hardware store at the intersection of U.S. Highway 278 and County Road 747 in Berlin had been a community fixture for decades before it closed in December 2017. Nearly three years later, Bruce Bentley- former proprietor of the 278 Rock Grocery two doors down- and recently retired UAB Information Technology Specialist Edwin Dixon reopened the local landmark this week as Berlin Hardware and Farm Supply.

Dixon told The Tribune, “I just retired last month from UAB; I was there for 33 years. Bruce had owned 278 Rock Grocery, and he had sold it. He and I are friends, and we got to talking about this and thought every time you pass this place, you thought, ‘Man, I wish that place was back open.’ It’s kind of funny, because probably in the last two days- we’ve been down here probably two months, now, working, trying to get things in order- and everybody else coming in has made the same statement: ‘We are so glad you opened back up, because we hate having to drive to town to go to Lowe’s or Marvin’s or one those places.’ So it’s kind of a service, especially to this community.”

Bentley added, “Me and Judy owned 278 Rock Grocery for 15 years, and we sold it about three years ago, and missed the community. When Edwin actually come to me and asked me about going in with him on this, then I thought, ‘Yeah, to get to serve the community and to get to see everybody again.’”

The store has all the typical things one would find in a community hardware store, but the owners also hope to continue the Walker’s Corner tradition of carrying at least a few items not found in other places.

Asked if they have any specialties, Dixon said that they will offer a large selection of plumbing supplies, noting that George and Frank Walker, who bought the business from their father W.I. “Lidy” Walker in the 1970s, “actually had a water business, also, where they done water lines down the roads and stuff. Frank did the water line business and George ran the store.”

Dixon concluded, “I hope that we can provide to the community the same thing that George and the Walkers provided to the community, and that was a place where they came, where they knew that they would have an honest service, somebody that would help them to get a solution to the problems that they were having with their daily needs.”

Berlin Hardware and Farm Supply, located at 3609 U.S. Highway 278, is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m.-noon.

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W.C. Mann