At FARMTOWN, Sardis City, Alabama, we strive to provide exceptional service to the families of our community and surrounding areas. We make it our business to provide quick and convenient service that is second to none for all our customers. In today's fast paced world we are preserving a way of life that our neighbors have known for generations. Our friendly, courteous and knowledgable staff are the backbone of our business. At FARMTOWN you're not just a customer, you're a friend and we're glad to came. Stop by and see why so many people in Northeast Alabama know FARMTOWN is your one-stop shop for all your home, garden and farm supplies. Forgt those big box stores, come to your hometown store!

Read more about the FARMTOWN staff by clicking a tab below. Taken from a 'Special Supplement to The Sand Mountain Reporter, March 2013.

  • Mark Blackwell: Owner

  • Mike Abernathy: Lumber Yard

  • Barbara Gibbs: Parts

  • Penny Patton: Counter

  • Ian Johnston: Warehouse Manager

  • Thomas Ward: Delivery

Spend any time at all with Mark Blackwell and you quickly learn his ownership of Farmtown in Sardis City was the answer to a prayer – literally.
Blackwell, 44, grew up on his parent’s farm in Black Creek, on Lookout Mountain near Collins­ville. After getting a degree in electrical tech­no­logy from Gadsden State Community College, he began a career with AutoZone, a retailer of aftermarket parts and accessories for cars and trucks.

Learning retail
“I learned the retail business from my experience at AutoZone,” Blackwell said. “I started in the maintenance department and moved up the corporate ladder pretty quickly in the 12 years I worked with them, from store manager to area manager to district manager.”
Becoming a corporate executive didn’t fit Blackwell’s ideals, especially with all the travel the position required.
“Candi and I had just had our first child and all the travel made it very difficult to be a husband and a father,” Blackwell said.
“I wanted to make a career change so I did what I always do when I need to make a decision – I prayed about it.

Earnest prayer
“I said, ‘Lord, I’ve never done anything but farm and retail. If you’ll give me something in those lines that I can do, I’ll do it and serve you.’ God gave me the opportunity to buy Farmtown,” he said.
It wasn’t quite that easy and it didn’t happen overnight, but there’s more to the story, including his parent’s influence in both farming and retailing.

Father’s influence
“My dad, Johnny Blackwell, worked at the steel plant in Gadsden and farmed at the same time,” he said. “We raised watermelons and cantaloupes and we’d sell them at the Farmer’s Market and at Trade Day.
“Dad taught us about business, about buying and selling and making a profit. That was Dad’s lesson for us.
“The first summer we did that, together my brother and I cleared $500 and we learned about profit margins,” he said. “Dad had a saying back then I still like. When we were kids, people would ask him about raising watermelons and he’d say, ‘I ain’t raising melons, I’m raising boys.’ He’s 83 and retired now but he still farms beef cattle and hay with my mom, Faye Blackwell.”
In addition to Mark, Johnny and Faye Blackwell have three other children.
Craig Blackwell, 52, is a senior vice president for AutoZone and lives in Indianapolis, Ind. John Blackwell, 46, lives in Glencoe where he is a high school teacher and the girls basketball coach at Glencoe High School. The baby of the family, Pam Blackwell, is 40 and lives on the family farm in Black Creek.

The Perfect Mix
So, with his background in farming and retailing, a desire to change careers and his strong Christian faith, Blackwell was looking the perfect match for all his talents and abilities.
“Farmtown was the perfect place for me, or at least I thought so in 1999, but when I approached the former owners, there was no interest in selling it,” he said. “So I prayed again and a few months later, the owners called me about buying it. We finalized the deal in 2000 and, in my mind, there is no question this is where God wants me and my family to be.”

The Blackwell Family
Mark and Candi have three children: Serah, 12, Andrew, 10, and John-Mark, 7. The Blackwell family lives Sardis City, just a couple of miles from Farmtown, and several months ago they moved into the home they built on their own farmland.
“We all love animals,” he said, “so this is the perfect place for us. We have four American Quarter Horses, some cattle and dogs and cats. We are animal lovers all the way around.”

His Philosophy
When asked about Farmtown’s corporate philosophy, he doesn’t hesitate to share the foundation of how he operates his business.
“It’s all about us being the best we can be,” he said. “It’s all bout providing great customer service, having the right products, quality products, at the right price and we always want to make sure we provide the services our community needs.”
There’s more and, to Blackwell, it seemed to be more important.
“I want us always to be sure we give our fair share back to the community, to our church and schools, to our local kids and to our local businesses,” he said. “We are very fortunate because this community supports us very well.”

Unusual Store
Blackwell knows his store is quite unusual.
“There aren’t many old-timey hardware stores still left around, especially in a small town,” he said. “That’s why we have to be sure we do the right things and have the right products at the right price.”
He went on to say Farmtown is much more than a hardware and farm supply store.

Five Businesses
“We are really five businesses in one,” he said. “We are a hardware store and we are a lumber store and building supply store. Mike Abernathy heads up these two ‘stores’ for us. We also have a big feed and seed business, led by Kevin Holcomb. Like Mike is about his area, Kevin really knows about helping farmers.
“Joey Gibbs heads up the small-engine part of our business, and he’s really good at doing that. We do a tremendous amount of repair work on lawnmowers and farm and garden equipment. We also have the best lines of riding and push mowers, as well as string trimmers, chain saws, blowers and every accessory you’d need. Finally, we have a big nursery, greenhouse and garden store. Jamie Chandler has headed that department for five years now and she really knows he stuff there,” he said. “I am involved in all these area and in operating the entire business, as well.”
Additionally, the Farmtown store has just remodeled and reorganized to fit Blackwell’s philosophy of customer service and stocking the right products.
“First, we paid an outside company to conduct a demographic study for us,” he said, “to show us what our market could and would support. We studied other stores like ours around the South and in our area and that revealed what products we should carry and what prices we should offer.”

Changing for the Better
As a result, Farmtown has a complete new look and almost double the inventory.
“I know if a business doesn’t change for the better, it will change for the worse,” Blackwell said. “Our challenge is to keep our old focus and to look modern. Our society expects stores that are clean and neat with items that are fronted, faced and properly priced with a full line of products.”
The remodeling project resulted in a Farmtown that is brighter with better-organized product displays and aisle signage that quickly assists customers in finding the items they need quickly.
“The days of adding to your store and just throwing a lot of merchandise on the shelves are long gone,” Blackwell said.

Old-Fashioned Service
What isn’t gone is the old-fashioned customer service you expect and deserve. Every Farmtown employee is trained to help customers find the product they need and to provide answers to solve customer problems.
As much as Farmtown has grown and changed, Blackwell dreams include more.
“Certainly I want us to continue to grow, even though we have grown tremendously in the last 13 years,” he said. “I hope to add more household items, like dishwasher detergent, and include a full line of household items. We’d like to add more kitchen items, such as blenders and small microwave ovens, and a full line of toys for kids. We want our customers to think of Farmtown as their store from the time they are five years old through adulthood. We already give every child who comes in our store a free airplane.
“We have a number of specialty food items, such as butter, eggs and bacon that were raised on Sand Mountain, as well as many Amish Wedding items. I want people to begin shopping here like we are the Dollar Store of Sardis,” he said.
The Blackwell family, Candi, Mark and their three children, love the Sardis area. Candi works as a nurse anesthetist at Marshall Medical Center South and, when the children aren’t involved in church or school activities, they enjoy boating on Lake Guntersville.
Like his father before him, Blackwell is raising his children to learn and appreciate the farming and retail business also.
“We have a garden and our kids are raising and selling their own homegrown goods,” he said. “I let them come to the store and sit on the front porch and sell things they’ve raised so they can learn the same lessons Dad taught us.”
They are all involved at Sardis Baptist Church, where Mark and Candi both sing in the choir. He is on the church’s finance committee and serves as an assistant Sunday school teacher for his own age group.
“God gave me this opportunity,” Blackwell said. “I prayed for an opportunity to take advantage of my knack for retailing and my knowledge of farming and He accommodated my prayer perfectly, of course. There’s not another store with a hundred miles that fit my farming and retailing dream.
“This is God’s business, not my business,” he said. “I know everybody’s been through rough times, times when you didn’t see how you might get through it. But if you’ll tend to God’s business, he’ll tend to your business.

Whether you are a contractor ready to bid out the materials for an entire house or about to begin a do-it-yourself project for the first time, Farmtown is the place you should go and Mike Abernathy is the man you need to see.

The Clay County native and Sardis resident has many years of building experience, is fully versed in reading blueprints and willing to help you construct a simple deck, if that’s what you want.

“We have a full lumberyard,” Abernathy said, “with the same high-quality wood you’d find at stores like Lowe’s or Marvin’s. Most importantly, we will meet or beat the prices our competitors offer.”

Quality and price aren’t the only important components of a sale, and Abernathy knows that as well.

“We have an 18-wheel, flatbed delivery truck,” he said, “and two drivers, including me. We deliver the immediate area, of course, and we’ve delivered as far away as Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

“Additionally, we have a moffett truck we take on deliveries. That allows use to lift and place items where they are needed. Workmen don’t need to waste time moving bundles of lumber, sheetrock – untreated and American-made – or shingles after we’ve delivered them.

“It’s just an extra service we provide.” he said.

Abernathy stressed contractors should view Farmtown as a one-stop destination for building supplies.

“Everything you need for complete construction of a house, almost from the foundation to the roof, plumbing, electrical, light fixtures, windows, doors, paint, you can get at Farmtown,” he said. “And, if you bring me your plans, I can work up a complete bid in just a couple of days.”

The same service is provided if you want to tackle your own project.

“I’ll help you design a plan for a deck or porch, for instance. I’ll help you draw up your plans, tell you what materials and tools you need, what steps come first and, if you get to a problem, I’ll help you get through it.

“I have 10 years experience as a carpenter and love to help people. You won’t get that kind of help or service from one of the big retailers. And, whether it’s a contractor working on a house or someone working in their backyard, I like to visit job sites on a personal basis to see where I can help.”

Sometimes Abernathy helps Farmtown’s customers by recommending contractors, carpenters, a handyman or a plumber. There are times when such an attitude makes a big difference and retelling a story brings a smile to Abernathy’s face.

“There was a business that had a building project and had bid all the lumber through a company in Cullman. They had been promised delivery on a certain day. Well, when that day came, there was no lumber to be delivered. The contractor doing the work recommended us and he called me.

“We got his material list and actually got everything he needed delivered to him the next day. Needless to say, he was pretty happy and he’s been a good customer of ours ever since.”

When he’s not working, Mike and his wife, Brenda, enjoy spending time together and with their two children. Their daughter, Pamela Gaskin, also lives in Sardis, and their son, Charles Harville, 21, lives in Steele. Their first grandchild is due in September.

Barbara Gibbs is one of the newest employees at Farmtown in Sardis City but she’s no novice to the world of ordering the parts you need.

“I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for our nine-year-old son, Dakota,” Gibbs said. “Before that, I ordered parts for a small-engine repair store in Anniston for 8 years, so I know what we need to keep in stock for our customers.”

She has an advantage most people don’t – her husband, Joey, has 21 years of experience as a mechanic on gasoline engines of all types, including 8 years at Farmtown himself.

She is also a master at organization and that, plus her computer knowledge, helped her to restructure the huge parts inventory so she can find anything you need in seconds.

“The reorganization allows us get more inventory in stock. That makes it easier for us to get repairs done quickly. It’s much more convenient and better for our customers. And, if we don’t have the part you need in stock, we can almost always get it for you.”

Yes, Farmtown has a large inventory of parts for you but that isn’t the store’s most outstanding feature. It’s the service offered by every single employee that makes Farmtown a great place to shop.

“Everybody is here to help you,” Gibbs said. “Our customers might get tired of hearing us ask, ‘May I help you?’ Customer service is what makes us different. You might walk around a big box store for 10-20 minutes and not be able to find anybody to try to help you, or you find someone who will help you but they don’t really have the experience to help you find the right spark plug or filter, for instance.

“But here, everyone is very knowledgeable and, if I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll find someone who does for you.”

Barbara and Joey Gibbs live in the Gnatville community, northwest of Piedmont in Cherokee County, and they enjoy antiquing, riding four-wheelers and watching Dakota play baseball. They are also active parents in his PTO and have helped out with fund-raising events at his school.

“I’ve only worked here eight weeks but, because of Joey, I’ve known many of the people who worked here for years,” she said. “ We all get along so well and it’s just as much a pleasure to work at Farmtown as it is to shop at Farmtown.”

Farmtown customers are glad to see Penny Patton back at her job behind the counter.

Patton worked at Farmtown for 20 years before she “retired” six years ago. Farmtown owner Mark Blackwell got her to return on March 1.

“I had been home, helping my husband, Tony,” she said. “He retired and we have four chicken houses, with more than 26,000 chicks per house.”

Tony and Penny have one son, Colby. Their granddaughter, Koti, turned five in March. They attend Bethlehem Baptist and love spending time with Koti. They also enjoy traveling, especially to the beaches of Alabama and Florida.

“I’ve learned a lot in 20 years,” she said. “There isn’t much I haven’t helped someone with at some point. And we have so many good people working here – everyone knows what they are doing – that can help our customers. Whatever a customer’s need is, there’s someone here who almost specializes in that area to help them.”

Patton is proud to be back working at the place she loves.

“My favorite thing is working with the customers,” she said, “and finding what they need for them, solving their problem. It’s a real thrill when a customer leaves happy and satisfied.”

If you visit with Farmtown’s Ian Johnston, be prepared to be interrupted as he answers a call for customer service.

The 21-year-old Colorado native and Sardis High grad is the warehouse manager for the hardware and farm supply store in Sardis City. He is constantly on the move loading feed, fertilizer or any Farmtown product into a customer’s car or pickup truck.

“My No. 1 job is to serve our customers quickly and to keep them happy,” he said. That is the big thing for everyone who works at Farmtown. We want people to keep coming back.”

That’s the attitude of every Farmtown employee. It’s worth the short drive to Sardis to discover that for yourself.

Johnston knows providing quick service to the customers is not only working hard, it’s also working smart.

“Keeping the warehouse organized it just as important as anything I do,” Johnston said.

When he’s not helping customers or receiving items and organizing the warehouse, the former high school athlete – he played football and basketball – helps out in other ways. You might find him assembling outdoor furniture or children’s riding toys or helping out in any department where help is needed.

After all, he wants Farmtown customers “to keep coming back.”

Farmtown should be the first store that comes to mind when you need lumber, whether you are working on a small, do-it-yourself project or building a full house from the ground up.

Not only does Farmtown have the highest quality lumber, you can count on Thomas Ward to deliver it right to your door and beyond.

“We have three flatbed trucks and a moffett truck for deliveries,” Ward, 29, said. “A moffett is a truck-mounted forklift that allows us put the deliveries, whether they are bundles of lumber, sheetrock, shingles, fertilizer or animal feed, exactly where you want them on your lot. That saves a lot of man-hours for our customers and that means they save a lot of money too.”

Ward, who says he spends about two-thirds of each day making deliveries, and his wife, Amy, live in the Mountainboro area. Amy is a secretary for Lowery Manufacturing, in Boaz, which makes farm implements. Thomas, Amy and Ayden, their 3-year-old son, enjoy riding four-wheelers.

“Most of our deliveries are nearby, or within a 60- to 90-minute drive,” he said, “but we will delivery anywhere our customers need us to go.

“Our job is to make the job easier for our customers,” Ward said. “Whatever needs to be done, that’s what we’ll do. That’s our job.”

Farm Supply

  • Equipment
  • Feed
  • Fertilizers
  • Fencing
  • Gates
  • Meds

Hardware Store

  • Anchors, Bolts & Screws
  • Hand Tools
  • Electrical Repair
  • Painting Supplies
  • Plumbing Repair
  • Power Tools


  • Bedding Plants
  • Vegetables
  • Shrubbery/Trees
  • Tropical Plants
  • Mulch/Potting Soil
  • Ornamental

Lumber Yard

  • Framing Lumber
  • Roofing
  • Insulation
  • Paneling & Sheetrock
  • Posts
  • Doors & Windows

Lawn & Garden

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