Friday, April 25, 2008

How to View Pictures of Almost Any Business In Bedford

You may have heard about Google Street View which provide "street level" views along roads, enabling you to type in an address and see panoramic pictures of individual businesses and houses from the road. Google started the service last May in a few cities and it's now available in many States across the USA.

Google gets street view pictures by driving cars along public roads with Cameras mounted on the roof taking pictures in all directions. These pictures then get associated with a particular address.
This is an example of one of the Google cars that is used to take pictures. Notice the cameras on the roof that allow for a 360 degree view.

In the past six months, Street View for most of the roads in Bedford have been added.
Google Street View is available for the streets with blue outlines. As you can see, this covers almost every road in Bedford. Click on any image for a larger view.

To use Street View, you can go to Google Street View Maps and enter in an address. For example let's say we want to see a picture of Papa Gino's. All we do is enter in the address, in this case, 310 Great Road Bedford MA. The following Image comes up.

Using the controls on the image, you can zoom in, pan left and right. You can also use the arrow keys to move along Great Road. For example you could click on the left arrow (NW) and it will show images as you head towards the center of town almost as if you were walking along. Or you could click on the pan left button and it will show you the other side of the street as in the below image.
In this example, I've used the pan left button to view the Travel Lodge on the other side of the street.

Google Street View only takes images from public streets so you may not be able to view business that are located in a shopping center or houses far from a public street.

Another way to view businesses and houses in Bedford is through the Accessors's Database on the Town of Bedford Website. Just enter the street address or the owner's name. For this example, we'll take a look at Papa Gino's again, so we enter 310 Great Road, and it brings up a picture, the owner and the assessed value (in this case $661,900). Click here to see the example.

The Bedford Town Web site also has a Online Property Viewer that you can use to view property and customize with lots of information like zoning, abutters and aerial photography. Like the other web sites, you just enter an address.

An "aerial picture" of Papa Gino's using the Online Property Viewer. This photograph appears to be at least a few years old as you can see the previous DPW building on the right.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ace Hardware Opening Later This Month

After a several year absence, an ACE Hardware store is returning to Bedford. The new Moison Ace Hardware store is located next to Stop and Shop in the space formerly occupied by CFO (which as been vacant for 5 years or so) and Santoros Hardware which was owned by Tony Santoro. The new store is about 10,000 square feet which is approximately twice the size of the old Santoros store. The owner is Rick Sargent who also owns the Moison Ace Hardware store in Groton MA.
The new store is located next to the Stop and Shop in The Great Road Shopping Center. A new Ace Hardware sign will be going up shortly.

According to Rick, the original store in Groton was started by his Grandfather in 1922. In the ensuing years, the store moved several times and in 1993 moved to it's current location. The store is still family operated with five generations having worked in and/or managed the store. While Rick is the current owner of the Groton store, every since he was a kid, he has always dreamed of opening a second store. When his son Neil (who will manage the Bedford store) showed an interest in the family business, Rick begun to do market studies in the Bedford/Lexington area to look for a second location (Rick was already familiar with the area as his oldest brother Harold Jr. is a pharmacist at the Bedford Stop and Shop). After the Santoros in Bedford closed down, an auctioneer notified Rick of the available merchandise. While Rick decided not to buy any of the old merchandise, he realized that Bedford would be the perfect location to open a second store.

The new ACE store features bright lighting and wide aisles, giving it a much more modern look and open feeling than the old Santoro hardware.

Construction started in the fall, and the new store is scheduled to open in late April. A Grand Opening celebration has been planned for the weekend of May 30th-June 1st. The Bedford store, which is larger than the Groton store, will stock close to 22,000 different items and is expected to have around 16 employees when fully open. The store is planning to be open 8am-8pm during the week and until 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The new store carries over 22,000 different items. For comparison, a Trader Joe's has around 2500 items, the nearby Stop and Shop about 50,000 and a Kmart has about 125,000 items.

Rick mentioned his stores really pride themselves on 100% customer service. One example he mentioned is that most employees have remote radios, so if you have a specific question and the person doesn't know the answer they will ask the question over the radio and usually get a quick answer to your question rather than waiting while the employee walks away to track down the right person.

Besides the normal hardware store stuff, the store will offer additional services such as key cutting and computer paint matching.

The aisles are still being stocked as the store prepares for opening.

I asked Rick about online ordering over the website. Rick mentioned you can pay shipping and have the order sent to your house, or you can get it shipped for free to his store and then you come in and pick it up. In addition, the website has a lot of additional products available, close to 64,000 items in all. Rick also mentioned they have a Ace Hardware rewards program available where you get 10 points for every dollar you spend in the store or online. For every 2500 points you get a $5 rewards card which is treated just like a gift card.

While his son Neil will manage the Bedford store, Rick will split his time between both stores. Rick's father Harold Sr. while 'semi-retired' still does some work at the Groton store and will be cutting the ribbon at the Grand Opening.

My last question to Rick was would he be interested in opening a third store. Rick mentioned he would love to, just not this year.

This will be the second Moison Ace Hardware. The first one was opened in 1922 in Groton and is still family run.

In a previous post, I mentioned that a Home Depot store was supposed to built in Billerica. The fight over building the Home Depot has continued and I am now not so sure that it will go forward.

Once the Ace Hardware opens, the Great Road Shopping Center will be fully occupied again. It appears that Stop and Shop will be undergoing a renovation by July. Hopefully it will include exterior renovations or at least fix all the peeling paint on the outside. With the upcoming renovations at the Great Road Marketplace (formerly Bedford Shopping Center), it will be interesting to see if the Great Road Shopping Center itself will undergo renovations to keep itself competitive.