I write in praise of Rankin’s True Value

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You would think I had won the lottery the way I was hootin’ and hollerin’ around here this morning. The reason was my conversation with Ken Rankin of Warrenton.

Ken is a member of the family that founded and operates Rankin’s True Value Hardware. I learned about his store yesterday when talking to Adam Kidd, one of the sales specialists at History Press, the South Carolina publisher of The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia. I asked Adam to check his computer for any stores in Warrenton or Fauquier County that had purchased copies of the book. (The last I heard, no merchants in Fauquier would carry The Last Lynching because of the “sensitive” subject matter.) Our conversation went something like this:

Adam: Yes, there is one store, Rankin’s True Value Hardware.

Me: A True Value Hardware? Are you sure?

Adam: Yes, they bought 12 copies.

Why would a hardware store in a shopping center just outside downtown Warrenton carry my book? Did they have a book section tucked between the bolts and bird feeders? I thought about it all night, and this morning I put on my reporter’s cap and called the store to find out. The clerk who answered said, no, they did not have a book section, so I asked to talk to the manager. That’s when Ken picked up the phone.

Ken said, yes, he bought the book and displayed it with one other near the check-out. He also put a poster that History Press sent him in the window. He said he was a bit nervous at first, afraid that his customers, especially his black patrons, would complain. But the only one who said anything was a descendant of one of the people accused of the lynching. Ken said he bought a copy for himself and was reading it now.

“We sold out,” he added.

So, dear readers, if you need some touch-up paint for the living room, please consider Rankin’s True Value in Warrenton. Located in the Warrenton Village Center, it’s open weekdays and Saturdays, 8-7, Sundays, 10-4.

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