Greg Paul has a plan to make sure his already more than half-century-old Ace Hardware will be around “for a long, long time for Wichita.”
By spring, the store will be open in new, expanded space that Paul and his wife, Sheila, will own instead of lease.
“We’ve taken a big step,” he says. “The store’s not going to go anywhere.”
Paul says this is significant because his store is the last independently owned Ace in the Wichita area.
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An out-of-state franchise has purchased most of the others.
“They approached me first, and I didn’t sell to them,” Paul says.
“I rebuffed them for about six months, and they moved on.”
His current location is in 13,000 square feet at 4183 E. Harry in front of the former Wichita Mall.
“We’ve been located in front of that for almost 30 years.”
The lease is expiring, and the Pauls had a chance to buy the 26,000-square-foot building at 1230 S. Woodlawn near the corner of Harry and Woodlawn.
They plan to use 16,000 square feet for the Ace store and lease the rest. Jake Ramstack of InSite Real Estate Group handled the deal and is leasing the 10,000 square feet next to where Ace will open.
Greg Paul says they’re “absolutely” making changes with the move.
The most unusual change, perhaps, is they’re adding a Hallmark Gold Crown shop “to attract ladies to a hardware store.”
That will be in about 600 square feet.
“So that’s different,” Paul says.
Also, he says, “We’re adding a garden center, which we’ve never had.”
That will be in a 2,700-square-foot addition to the building.
The new store, which will undergo extensive remodeling, also will have a new area for equipment rentals for items such as floor polishers and hand tools that customers have one-time uses for.
Paul says Ace corporate likes that the new store will be at the intersection of two busy streets.
“It’s a very strong location,” he says. “Their projections for sales increases are pretty dramatic, so we’re pretty excited.”
Paul says when he bought the store 31 years ago, he didn’t have the capital to own the building the Ace was in. He says he doesn’t worry about the money he spent in rent through the years.
“You try not to have regrets in life because those can make you sick.”
The Ace opened in the Parklane shopping center at Lincoln and Oliver more than 50 years ago.
“It’s always been in that area,” Paul says. “It’s a good market.”
The new store will open in March, and the other one will remain open until then.
“We will only close for one day,” Paul says.
He also has a second store in North Carolina.
Paul says it was important to him to not sell to a bigger company.
He says his store’s “service is incredible.”
“No chain can replicate what a private owner can do.”