• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Dean’s Dream

Solon Hardware documentary screens at community center Jan. 12

SOLON– For Barry Sharp, the history of Solon Hardware was worth preserving.
“If you want to feel good about living in this community, this is a great story,” he noted.
His documentary film, “Dean’s Dream,” will be screened for the public Sunday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. at the Solon Community Center.
Sharp moved to Solon in 2006 as director of the Iowa City Veteran Affairs (VA) Health Care System. He visited the Solon Hardware Store to purchase garbage cans and other items needed for a new home.
“I’d lived in metropolitan areas most of my career, and when you walk into a business like this, it’s different,” he said. “When you walk in and there’s not an inch on the wall that’s not covered with some type of product, it catches your eye.”
He was helped by an older woman who was sharp as a tack, and clearly knew the inventory of the store.
“Right away, I found it unique.”
It was the beginning of a long relationship with Carolyn Trump, her son Tom, and Delores Kasper.
“I’ve walked in many times with just something in my hand and they turn around and go get it off the shelf and come back right away. I don’t have to say a word,” Sharp commented. “In an age of the big box stores, let alone online ordering, a business of this type in a small town, rural America, is hard to survive. And yet they have managed to survive and thrive. The Solon Hardware Store is the heartbeat of this community.”
Sharp, 64, originally from Bettendorf, traveled the country for 30 years working for the VA, retiring in 2014.
He had been an amateur photographer for years and became involved in digital photography when he moved to Denver.
Sharp jumped into the digital era with both feet, shooting portraits and weddings.
“When I moved back here I simply did not have the time to do any of that because the job was pretty demanding,” he said.
About two months before retiring, he came home one day to find a flyer from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Mont., in his mail.
“I said, ‘That’s it!’” he recalled.
He enrolled in a five-month program that required him to live in Missoula, and while he thought he would be the oldest in his class, he actually came in third.
Sharp quickly learned how much he didn’t know, but went on to take more courses, including on drone photography and documentary filmmaking.
Film production interested him to the point he purchased a new camera and invested in lighting and audio equipment.
“Anybody who makes documentary films is always looking for a good story, and I think this is a fabulous story,” he observed.

Dean Trump came home from work one night, very unhappy with his mid-level corporate management job.
“What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” asked his wife, Carolyn.
His response was he really wanted to open a hardware store, but it would mean Carolyn would have to go back to work.
The Trumps looked around at different communities, but all their money was tied up in their house so they had to find a place that would also serve as a residence, Sharp explained.
They threw their grubstake in Solon.
The Trump family purchased the hardware store and Dean ran it for 22 years. After his passing, Carolyn, Delores and Tom continued to run the business.
“Yeah, you can buy any hardware thing online or at a big box store, but you’re not going to get: one, the service; and two, the feeling of community when you walk in that store,” Sharp said. “Carolyn, Delores and Tom are the reason people shop there.”
Solon wasn’t always like it is today, he added.
When Sharp arrived in 2006, “there wasn’t much going on in Solon.”
The hardware store was the place where the community shared its stories, he said.
“It’s a unique community asset that has been the anchor, I think, of Main Street, certainly since I’ve moved here,” he said. “Now of course, we have lots of fine restaurants that bring people to Solon, but I think prior to that, the big anchor on Main Street was Solon Hardware Store.”
Sharp had been in the store many times, but he’d never seen PVC pipe inside and needed some.
He called up and asked.
“Half-inch or quarter?” was the reply.
“When I go in there, they’ve got it squirreled away up in the rafters. I mean every inch of the store is utilized,” he said.
If you buy a lawnmower or snowblower from the Solon Hardware Store, Sharp said, they will come to your house literally, pick it up, fix it and bring it back to your house at no charge for the life of the product.
“Wow,” he said. “Where do you see that?”
If you have an emergency in the middle of the night, if your sump pump breaks, you can call the hardware store and they’ll help you, he said.
“They live right above the store. They are more than willing to come down and open the store up for whatever your need might be,” Sharp said. “They made it clear that people don’t abuse it, but if they need it, they’re there for them.
“Which I think is just unheard of,” he continued. “Who can do that?”
It’s part of the community’s history that needs to be saved and shared, he stated.
When Sharp conducted his interviews for “Dean’s Dream,” Carolyn Trump and Delores Kasper both commented on how they have now worked with three or four generations of Solon residents.
Other interviewees express a lot of heartfelt sentiment toward the store and the people who run it.
The film has been in the works for almost two years with starts and stops, he said.
He started it initially with what he thinks now is inferior equipment, but went back and re-interviewed both Delores and Carolyn and was very happy with the results.
People get nervous on camera, he said, and the second time around in a studio setting created less anxiety.
“I think it’ll come off as a very genuine documentary where they are speaking from the heart,” he said.
Editing was the biggest challenge.
Sharp said most of the work was done using the software program Adobe Premier Pro and there was a very steep learning curve.
“That’s what took me the most time, I would go an inch forward and a foot back because something would get screwed up and I wouldn’t know how to fix it,” he said.
Helping with the project was his friend, John Reynolds, who spent six years as a recording engineer at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
The two met in Cleveland and share a passion for music and photography.
Reynolds attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography documentary class with Sharp, and the two collaborated on “Dean’s Dream.”
The film was completed about a month and a half ago, and Delores, Carolyn and Tom and his wife were provided a private showing.
Sharp hopes there’s a good turnout for the free public screening Jan. 12 at the community center auditorium.
After the film, Delores and Carolyn will be present for a potential question and answer session with audience, he said.
“It’s a great human interest story,” Sharp said.
You might be able to go to Iowa City or Cedar Rapids to a big box store, he said. “But you’re not going to get the personalized service you get here, and you’re supporting something that’s part of this community. You don’t see stores like this around any more.
“Come out and support your local businesses,” he added. “Because if you don’t, they’ll be gone.”