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VIDEO | 100-year dream comes true at Neu’s Hardware

August 15, 2022 – West Bend, WI – Margaret Krebs will turn 100 years old on August 26, 2022 and by the skin of her teeth she just completed one of the final goals on her bucket list: working at a hardware store.

Mike at Neu’s Hardware, N95W16915 Falls Pkwy, in Menomonee Falls and his team helped make the wish official by outfitting Margaret with a Neu’s apron (with her name on it) and getting her set behind the cash register at checkout.

Neu's Hardware

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“You know how we checked out years ago,” said Margaret. “We wrote it on a piece of paper.”

Michelle Neu, company vice president, could relate. “When my grandfather started this business 75 years ago that’s how it was,” she said. “They had just a cash register with a crank wheel. I think we still have one of those in the basement somewhere.”

 

Margaret grew up on a farm in St. Lawrence, WI. “That was one thing I always wanted to do was work at a hardware store. I don’t know why…. but here I am,” she said.

Margaret remembered going to Kirsch Hardware store to pick up a bolt or a nail from Herb or Tony Kirsch. “The store was about a mile from home,” she said. “We never got any treats… just what we needed, paint or nails.

“When checking out they wrote everything on a little paper, and they duplicated it. You got one piece, and they kept the other.”

Neu’s Hardware has a storied history as well starting in 1945. Click HERE to read more.

Granddaughter Tiffany Bando was the force behind making Margaret’s wish come true. “I was on the phone with her about a month ago and I asked her if at 100 years old she had any regrets and she said she didn’t get to work in a hardware store,” said Bando. “I was just blown away that it wasn’t about exotic travel or anything huge, it was something so simple and I thought we could make this happen.”

Bando reached out to Neu’s Hardware. “They were so kind and welcoming and here we are, making her dream come true.”

“I hear you’re the new girl,” said Bill, a Neu’s employee as he arrived for work.

Margaret shook his hand and said, “Yes…. welcome to Neu’s.”

Then things got busy, and Margaret had to get to work checking out customers and their purchases.

Armed with a scanner gun and some advice from her great grandchildren Margaret rang up her first sale.

“Just beep the lines,” said her youngest great grandson.

“I do what,” questioned Margaret as a beep sounded.

“Good job great grandma,” said the boy.

“That’ll be $3.05. Do you want your receipt in a bag,” asked Margaret. “There you are. Thanks for shopping at Neu’s.”

Margaret (Walter) Krebs was born August 26, 1922. She grew up in Loyal, WI, alongside six sisters and two brothers.

Bando said, “She married my grandfather, Norbert, in 1949. They met at his cousin’s wedding.  Back then people were invited to weddings, and they ‘worked’ at the weddings, so she was a server.”
When Norbert and Margaret got married, they moved to St. Lawrence and lived on a farm.”
The Krebs’ farmed from 1949-1988 when they sold the farm. They had three children, Herbie, Thomas and Patrice Krebs.
“My grandmother never got the chance to go to high school,” said Bando, “She went to school for six years and then two years at a Catholic school and she graduated. There were no buses to take her to school so her parents couldn’t drive her. She became a mother’s helper.
Back then, after women had babies, they needed help as the new Moms had to stay in bed for nine days.  So, Margaret helped make meals and do other things for families.”
Krebs worked at Milwaukee Globe Union and Badger Meter factories, a Hartford Canning company, and a hotel for a few months. She also worked in Jackson at the canning factory that made sauerkraut and was part of Libby’s, and she still loves sauerkraut to this day.
Bando said, “She helped my grandfather run the farm after they got married.
She loves to crochet, and she loved traveling to Florida beaches with my grandpa in their RV.”
“When I asked my grandmother if she had any regrets in her 100 years of life, she said had one, and that she was not able to work at a hardware store.  No rhyme or reason, just something she always wanted to do,” said Bando.
“I reached out to Neu’s Hardware Store in Menomonee Falls and they immediately agreed to let her come in Thursday, August 11, 2022, at 10 a.m. to work the cash register for a little bit and make her dream come true. Neu’s even made her an apron with her name on it. We are keeping it a surprise.”
Bando and two of Krebs’ great grandchildren will be flying to Wisconsin from Tennessee for the brief, yet memorable, event; another surprise for the unexpecting Krebs.
“She also had one goal for her birthday and that was to receive 100 birthday cards,” said Bando.
For those who may like to drop a birthday card in the mail, Krebs’ address is below:
Margaret Krebs
201 Auxillary Ct.
Apt. 302
West Bend, Wi 53095
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