The store was started by Samuel Isaac (S.I.) Osborne and was turned over to his son, Glenn, in 1948. The original dry goods store was located in a small building across the street from the current, larger hardware store at 19077 Veterans Memorial Highway.
Phil Osborne grew up in the family store and never intended on working in the business. He attended what was then Clinch Valley Community College in Wise, known today as UVa-Wise. Following a year in Vietnam, Phil came back home and entered the family business and has worked there until recent health issues forced him to take a backseat and let his son Luke manage the business.
Just like his father, Luke did not intend to run the hardware store. He also attended UVa-Wise and, after graduating, taught school for three years. Desiring a little more variety and independence, Luke came to work with his father in 2008. Today, Luke runs the store.
Although the population of Dungannon is only a little over 300, S.I. Osborne continues to be a viable enterprise, drawing customers from a large outlying rural base. Without S.I. Osborne Hardware, customers would have to drive almost an hour into Kingsport or Norton. “The convenience and personal service we provide is what sets us apart,” Phil said.
A customer can walk into S.I. Osborne Hardware asking for an item and, within minutes, has the item in hand. “You don’t have to wander all around the store looking for something. If we have what a customer is looking for, we can generally lay our hands on it within a few minutes,” Phil added.
The store sells general hardware, ranging from plumbing supplies and paint, nails and lumber to larger items such as Frigidaire appliances, plus lawn and gardening supplies. Luke explained the hardware business is seasonal and gears up at the beginning of each different season.
“It’s pretty much like clockwork. When the seasons change, the store is super busy and requires two of us to be here all the time,” Luke said. During those times, it isn’t unusual for Luke to stay open passed the 5 p.m. closing time.
“Our customers know they can rely on us to help them and to be open when they need us,” Phil said. “It’s all about treating people right.”
Phil attributed that philosophy to keeping the store open for more than 85 years. Even though Phil doesn’t work in the store regularly now, it isn’t unusual to see him hanging around with a fifth generation Osborne in the store — his grandson Phillip Rece, perhaps the next Osborne to run the family business.
S.I. Osborne Hardware Company, Inc., is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Community contributor Pam Cox is Director of Scott County Tourism.