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.

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