This must be the PlACE

Posted 11/5/19

Charlie Stark, perusing through pipe fittings and other plumbing supplies Friday, already knows pretty much where everything he needs lies.

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This must be the PlACE

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Charlie Stark, perusing through pipe fittings and other plumbing supplies Friday, already knows pretty much where everything he needs lies.

“I have been here every day since it opened,” he said.

Stark may be what some retailers call a “heavy user.” Most folks around Madisonville, though, will be visiting the newest store in town — Ace Hardware — at least a couple of times a week.

The opening of Ace Hardware on Main Street offers locals a broader selection of inventory than they previously had.

“We have been very well received by the community and it is greatly appreciated,” said Liz Henson, owner and operator along with her husband Fred. “We are not trying to replace anybody, we are here to fill a gap. It gives people an opportunity to shop locally.”

Ace had what Henson described as a “soft opening” on Oct. 29 and are now officially open for business. The true celebration will not take place until the spring.

“We are not going to schedule a true grand opening until we can figure out a few things and get our inventory where it needs to be,” said Henson.

But many local shoppers have already visited the store to purchase supplies or simply take a look around the first chain retail store to open in Madisonville since Tractor Supply years ago.

“We are just here checking it out today,” said Ace shopper Kathy Elder. “We just moved here about a year ago and were glad to hear we were getting a new store in Madisonville.”

“They got a little bit more of a selection than most stores,” said Hector Zuniga while shopping at Ace for plumbing and welding supplies. “This is my first time here, but I am sure that I will come here pretty regularly.”

The initial inventory offered by the store was shelved as a result of a market study done by Ace. The staff is currently in the process of gathering feedback from their customers to ensure a selection that will meet the community’s needs.

“We are only as good as the information we get back from our customer,” said Henson. “As you walk through and you are not seeing something, and you feel like you might have to go out of town to get it, please tell us. We have started a list of those things and are really dependent on our customer base to help us fine tune our inventory.”

Though focused mainly on home repair and supplies, many Ace Hardwares around the country offer items as varied as fishing gear and kayaks to housewares and sporting goods. In a 2018 news release about the company’s annual “Coolest Hardware Store” awards, Ace highlighted stores that offer skiing gear, floral arrangements and even one location operating in a abandoned sewing factory.

“Of the more than 5,000 Ace locations around the world, no two are exactly alike,” Dan Miller, vice president of retail operations and new business for Ace said in the release. “This, along with the service, convenience and quality our customers have come to expect, is just another reason why Ace stands the test of time.”

The goal is to meet and satisfy the need of everyone in the community. According to Henson, the biggest challenge early on has been learning the new store. But the Ace team, which currently includes seven employees, has worked after hours in an attempt to become more familiar with the inventory.

“I am extremely proud of our team,” said Henson. “They have done a fabulous job at getting to know our inventory in a very short time. I am really proud of the extra efforts they are putting in before and after work to get us up to speed.”

Ace Hardware, founded by a group of Chicago hardware store owners in 1924, operates as a retailers’ cooperative, a structure that uses economies of scale on behalf of members. The cooperative helps local operators with manufacturer discounts and marketing expenses.

According to the official history of the company, “Ace changed the retail landscape by allowing individual stores to purchase merchandise in bulk to save money and buy at the lowest possible price. This partnership enabled even the smaller stores to compete effectively at retail despite larger stores in their market.”

Ace Hardware Corporation is still owned solely and exclusively by the local Ace retail entrepreneurs, according to the history.

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