By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
“Ace is the Place” is a familiar slogan that represents this nationally recognized retailer whose longevity spans over 90 years. With more than 4,600 stores located in the U.S., Canada and abroad, their numbers will soon expand even further as a brand new Ace retail store will open in Shinnston! Owned and operated by the father-son team of Mark and Adam Southern, both local residents, the new Ace in Shinnston will occupy the former Save-A-Lot building along Rt. 19.
Mark purchased the property a couple of years ago but not with Ace in mind, he admits. “I had several ideas that I tossed around and even had a design and blueprints drawn up for what was to be the Shinnston Retail Plaza that would include perhaps a tanning salon, nail salon, coffee shop, restaurant and pub, etc. Then Ace came to mind in July of last year and we thought it would be a valuable addition to our community,” he said.
Both Mark and Adam met with Ace corporate people last August and were given the go-ahead to proceed with the project. Since that time, they have been to conventions, trade shows and training sessions in Chicago and Las Vegas to learn more about the scope of the project and to gain the knowledge and trainingneeded to effectively manage an Ace Hardware store.
Work began in late March of this year on the site, a property that had been vacant and unused for 15 years. Encompassing 13,300 square feet of space, the building has been completely gutted down to the steel beams, insulated, a new roof added, new drywall, plumbing, electrical – you name it! Mark, who also owns a general contracting business, has had crews working 60-70 hours a week during the past four months, and Shinnston’s new Ace Hardware location is scheduled for a soft opening on July 26th.
Shelves are in place and currently being stocked, and the only big items that remain on the to-do list are the resurfacing of the parking lot (scheduled for this week, weather permitting) and the placement of signage.
Naming all the departments that will be housed within the store along with the products and brands that will be available includes a very lengthy list! For example, contractors and do-it-yourselfers will be excited to find well-stocked hardware, plumbing, and electrical departments … along with a paint department carrying Valspar and Clark & Kensington paints (and others) … paints that can be mixed to match your exact needs … in addition to brushes, rollers, and a full assortment of supplies for painting and staining projects. Don’t overlook the tool section where names such as Craftsman, DeWalt, Milwaukee, Black & Decker and other brands can be purchased – everything from trimmers to chain saws!
A vast home goods department will also offer everything from mops and buckets to household cleaning supplies … and if you’re a canner, look for a highly visible end cap display of canning jars and supplies. There will also be an automotive department where you’ll find buys on oil, filters, etc.
Four thousand square feet of space is designated to lumber in the new Ace Hardware. But even though the store has not officially opened, wheels are already turning and expansions are being considered.
Be sure to visit the lawn and garden department too, where merchandise may change with the seasons! For example, Spring items will include blooming flowers and mulch for landscaping undertakings; during the summer you will find Weber, Komado Joe,Traeger and other brand name grills (along with charcoal sales and propane refills accessible for motor homes and campers)as well as push and riding mowers. The fall season will showcase rakes, leaf blowers, mums and pumpkins; and later, winter weather supplies such as shovels, blowers and ice melt will be showcased.
Bulk merchandise will include such items as quickcrete, bird seed and even pet foods and supplies.
Just about anything you could possibly need for any fix-up or repair project – both inside and outside – you’ll be able to find at Shinnston’s new Ace Hardware store. ‘Ace is the Place’ is certainly NOT an exaggerated slogan! And the aforementioned products are just some of the highlights; you’ll need to visit the store to grasp its wealth of retail items … not to mention its specialty services – such as key cutting (even for vehicles!), screen repairs, glass cutting and small engine repairs, to name a few! Oh yes, Ace IS the Place – and all conveniently located under one roof!
If you are under the impression that Ace is a store that specifically caters to the male gender, you’re mistaken. Ladies will love visiting the store as well, where they’re sure to take notice of some redecorating ideas such as an Evergreen display of garden flags with matching door mats and door décor that fit well in that small space between your storm door and entry door! And, according to Adam, ladies can look forward to “Ladies Night” that will begin in the fall.
“These classes will meet a couple of times a month, and for a nominal fee, ladies can enjoy an evening at Ace Hardware, learning a craft featuring the Amy Howard brand of paint, a chalk-based paint and finish that is known for ‘rescuing, restoring, and redecorating’,” Adam explained. “Registering for the class will include all paint, supplies and utensils needed for the project – as well as finger foods and wine. More details will be available as fall approaches. We’ll also carry Yankee candles, Yoder jams, and a few select in-house handcrafted items. Ladies will find our store very female-friendly!”
Adam added that one of the great things about Ace is that in addition to carrying so many top brand product names for any homeowner, Ace store owners are also permitted to localize their product assortments.
“For example,” he noted, “an Ace store in Florida may carry surfboards because that meets the needs of its local clentele. In our area, where perhaps hunting, fishing and camping are more popular, we will carry items useful to those folks – including ammunitionand even cast iron cookware. And since we have so many Mountaineer fans in our area, as the season approaches, we will have WV items too – apparel, mugs, decals, etc. We’ll be watching our traffic and adjusting our inventory to suit customer needs.”
Mark noted that although his son will be managing the business, it has been a partnership between the two of them. “This has been quite a substantial investment,” Mark stated, “but one that we’re sure will be appreciated by the folks that live in our area. Ace is a nationally recognized name and yet it’s a store that embraces the neighborhood where it is located. With Ace being a retail store that is highly ranked in customer satisfaction, that is what we want to build on. Any customers who don’t find what they’re looking for among our merchandise can order what they need online and have it delivered to our store for pickup without shipping costs. We’ll make it as convenient as possible and that, too, will keep satisfied customers.”
Adam concluded, “I love this community and the small town feel. I’ve lived here my entire life and I plan to stay here. This is an opportunity to help Shinnston grow. We have taken an empty building and replaced it with a bright, fully remodeled store where people can find an array of products and services that are needed here locally. I am anxious and excited to get the doors open and welcome people in the area to the new Ace Hardware!”
Nine employees have already been hired and applications are still being taken for both full-time and part-time positions. Hours will be Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Evening hours may be extended de pendent on customer demand.
An official grand opening celebration will be hosted in early to mid September. In the meantime, look for fliers announcing a big Labor Day sale and even more specials to complement their grand opening! ‘Ace is the Place’ you’ll want to visit when the doors open!