In 1972 Ron Jarms, who worked for Osco Drug Stores in Iowa, was confronted with a choice of moving to Chicago or coming west. Ron gathered his family and came to Cheney where the Edgett brothers were ready to retire from their hardware business on First Street. Tom Jarms was 10 years old. “My dad expected us four brothers, Bill, Tom, Dan and Mike, and our sister Kim, to sit quietly in the office if we wanted to be in the store. We were not allowed to run around,” Tom said.
When a few years went by and Tom Jarms was about 14, he was allowed to sweep the floor. He said, “We had paper routes. We worked.”
Tom went to EWU, and decided he’d like to be in the military. He went through ROTC training and graduated. Facing four years in the Army, Jarms found that he and the military “didn’t fit well.” He parted with the military in 1987.
Tom Jarms met his future wife Charlene, in 1990 where she worked at Ace Hardware. They were married that year on St. Patrick’s day. Tom said, “Dad offered me a job. We bought some property and built a home. We found we liked the hardware business. It was helpful that Charlene already was familiar with it. In 1999 we bought out Jarms Hardware from my parents.”
“We like the small town atmosphere,” Jarms said. “We support West Plains Little League and have an annual picture taking with Santa Claus. This past December we took 250 pictures of kids, pets, families, with Santa Claus. Every May we have a Garden Party for kids. We provide plants and the soil to plant them in. It makes a positive experience for kids. On Arbor Day we provide saplings for the Cheney community. We support the Cheney Rodeo and the Cheney Jubilee. There are free handouts for the kids at the Jubilee.”
Speaking of day to day encounters Jarms said, “It’s nice to have relationships and friendships with our customers.” He mentioned the sense of trust from customers when you can advise and help them.
Looking back, Jarms said, “Dad had the personality and drive to build the business.” He recalls the days when he was a small boy and his dad, Ron Jarms, could have decided to turn east instead of west. How different life would have been and how good it is to be here in Cheney where a man can own a store, call a customer by his first name and be his friend.
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.