Ace Hardware opening in Rockwell

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 6, 2008

By Paris Goodnight
ROCKWELL ó Terry Beaver has tried his hand at a number of different things over the years, but he thinks his latest endeavor is the Ace he’s always looked for.
He’s opening a new Ace Hardware on Sept. 16 in the building at 229 E. Main St. that once housed an early Food Town grocery. The spot had remained vacant since the R.A.G.S. Inc. women’s wear operation shut down in 2004.
Thad Whicker of Cozart Lumber bought the building and Beaver will lease it from him. Beaver said the idea is to trim the drive to Salisbury for folks on the eastern side of the county who need some of the 18,000 items the hardware will stock. They can also order online from an even larger supply of merchandise from the co-op and have it shipped in.
Ace, an 84-year-old company, is known as “the helpful hardware place” for do-it-yourself enthusiasts. It was privately held until 1976 when it became a retailer-owned cooperative.
Beaver said after the town’s last hardware store closed, it left a void, and he started looking into the possibility of opening one himself two years ago. He began work on bringing the Ace Hardware name in about a year ago.
“We had a few meetings and they looked at the demographics and it was a viable market,” he said.
Other nearby Ace Hardwares are in Mocksville, Lexington and Richfield.
Beaver, 45, worked for his family’s Sides Lumber Co. earlier and was involved in construction before going into the haircutting business for 20 years. He’s been a co-owner of the East Rowan Cafe and served on the Rockwell Town Board for eight years until last November. With all that experience ó plus he and his wife, Stacy, are both East Rowan graduates ó Beaver will be very familiar with the folks who will be his customers in the hardware business.
He said Alicia Rummage will be assistant manager at the store, which will have 10 employees, including full- and part-timers. They will take certain online education classes on dealing with customers and product knowledge as part of ongoing employee education, Beaver said.
Ace will be open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. It will be open 1-5 p.m. Sundays because, Beaver said, “I go to church and I want my employees to be able to go to church too.”
He said the dream of opening his own store took off when Heidi Whitesell of Community Bank of Rowan was able to make a Small Business Administration loan become a reality. “If it wouldn’t have been for her, it wouldn’t have happened,” Beaver said.
Among the name brands he’ll deal with are Benjamin Moore paints, Stihl products, and a variety of plumbing and electrical supplies at the 8,500-square-foot-building. Another 2,500 square feet of space will be filled with lawn and garden items, mostly in the spring.
Hunting and fishing licenses and supplies, including ammunition, will be offered.
Ace has 4,600 stores in all 50 states and 60 countries, generating annual retail sales of more than $13 billion. In 2007, wholesale sales to its retailers surpassed $3.97 billion. That makes Ace the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the industry.
Beaver has some leeway on how he runs the hardware. “I can do what I want, but it’s important to listen to them,” he said. “You’d be a nut not to listen to what they’re telling you.”
Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., Ace has 4,800 employees worldwide. It has four regional offices: Raleigh, Atlanta, Denver and Woodridge, Ill.
Beaver said his products will be shipped in from a distribution center in Gainesville, Ga.
After the soft opening this month, Ace will hold grand opening events Oct. 24-26.
The store’s phone number is 704-279-5269.