Original hardwood floors squeak, seasonal products fill the displays and old fashioned hardware items remind you of days gone by while friendly service and knowledgeable staff greet you at the counter. Varns and Hoover Hardware, a main street staple of downtown Middlebury, IN has served Elkhart County in the heart of northern Indiana’s Amish Country for over 130 years. Antiques from our past inventory decorate the walls but on the today’s sales floor bulk garden seeds, DIY supplies for canning, preserving, tapping maple trees for syrup and must have items for creating your Pinterest projects are just the beginning of our varied selections. Quality lawn, garden, power and hand tools along with small appliances and other kitchen essentials reside in the variety packed aisles shared with upscale jewelry, ladies clothing and accessories, unique gifts, and vintage candies and soda-pop. Painting supplies, stove pipe and all the essentials for plumbing and electrical work can be found along with the assistance and advice from the experienced staff. Visit the past but relish the present when shopping for everything from nails to pails, bird feeding supplies to classic children’s toys and more at our full service, family owned hardware – a community favorite since 1886, and a visitor’s delight!
We are an independently-owned member of Do it Best Corp., the only US-based, member-owned comprehensive and fully integrated hardware, lumber and building materials buying cooperative in the home improvement industry. Our store is stocked with products tailored just for you and your community, and our online catalog features 67,000 items available for purchase. If you need it, we have it, with fast and free delivery to our store.
Beginning in 1886, Wise & Varns Hardware was started in Mancelona, Michigan by half-brothers W.W. Wise and Ellsworth Varns. A large fire led them to move to the up and coming farm town of Middlebury, IN the following year. This decision proved well when the Pumkinvine railroad came to town in 1889.
During their first decades the hardware store was located on the east side of Main Street in the present-day Cinnamon Stick building. This picture shows Mark Pickrell, LaMort “Tink” Kellet, Ellsworth Varns, Macy Putt, Ben Wise, and Reginald Varns during that time.
From 1886-1916 Wise & Varns Hardware sold carriage parts and accessories, horse tack, farm implements, knives, ammo, guns, rope, barbwire, tools, fasteners, and other hardware.
W.W. Wise died in 1912 and the name was changed to Varns & Hoover in 1916 when Ellsworth’s brother-in-law, Clarence Hoover, joined Ellsworth Varns and his son Clarence Varns. During this time inventory included washing machines, stoves, furnaces, tractors, and all typical hardware items. Tractors and small engines were also serviced in a back room.
In 1948 Clarence Varns’ son-in-law, Dean Warstler, began working in the store and became owner in 1971. During this time washing machines, lawn mowers, refrigerators, and typical hardware was being sold. Dean’s son-in-law, Carl Eash, began working at the store in the early 1970’s. Carl became manager when Dean retired and served the store faithfully until his own retirement in 2017. Inventory during this time included plumbing, electrical, gardening, housewares, tools, paint, automotive, and hardware.
Dean’s grandson, Nathan Miller, started working at the store in 2015 and became owner in 2018, making Varns & Hoover a 5th generation family owned and operated hardware store.
- W.W. Wise 1858-1912
- Ellsworth Varns, 1862-1950
- Clarence Hoover, 1869-1940
- Clarence Varns, 1896-1974
- Dean Warstler, 1923-2013
- Carl Eash, retired in 2017
- Nathan Miller, started working at the store in 2013