Tom and Betty Vilas opened Sierra Hardware in July of 1947 after purchasing the building from Emma Folsom and the business from John Gwynn. As they were taking inventory and readying the business to open next door, the historic St. Charles Hotel burned to the ground. They opened the doors selling hardware, plumbing, and electrical supplies, as well as large appliances for which they received allocations right after the war. For a time, they even sold dynamite and blasting caps to help supply the mines and for construction in the area.
The original store was an old, wooden building where Tom and Betty conducted business for 21 years before a fire started in the back of the building, destroying the business in July of 1968. Following this incident, Sierra Hardware moved into temporary headquarters for about 3 years while a new cinder block building was constructed. The business began anew in 1972 after the new building was finished. In small-town fashion, Sierra Hardware has had several local employees and family members make up the staff over the years.
In 1982, Tom and Betty's daughter, Cindy McCreary, took over the business as manager. After Tom and Betty passed away, Cindy became the store's sole owner, and continues to run the business the "old-fashioned way." This is perhaps what customers enjoy most about the store. Nowadays, one can still find a vast selection of hardware, plumbing, paint, electrical, and sporting goods beyond the store's swinging wooden door, and as a Department of Fish a and Wildlife agent, one may also purchase fishing and hunting licenses.