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Would you miss Ace Hardware?

Continuing my “Would you Miss” series

Ace_Hardware


Does Ace Hardware provide such a unique product and customer experience that we would be saddened if it didn’t exist? Does Ace Hardware treat its employees so astonishingly well that those workers would not be able to find another employer to treat them as well? Does Ace Hardware forge such unfailing emotional connections with its customers that they would fail to find another hardware store that could forge just as strong an emotional bond?

What say you?

Post inspiration | Mavericks at Work

28 Comments

  • Hmmm. There are two Aces within walking distance of me. I find the retail experience quite generic – more friendly than the giant Home Depots of the world, but a little less attentive than the mom n pops. I’ve been trying to support the tiny local no-names, but Ace will do when those are closed. Verdict – I probably wouldn’t miss it.

  • Peter_Peter_Pumpkineater says:

    Yvette, it’s worth noting that the mom & pop shops usually buy from Ace Hardware at wholesale. So if Ace went away… you’d have no mom & pops.

  • BIG Kahuna says:

    I would but only because the service at Home Depot and Loews is horrible. When you walk into an Ace you know someone will help you if you need it.

  • Elginista says:

    Yes. While Home Depot and Lowes often win on price, the service at my local Ace is so much better, especially if I’m looking for a specific oddball item. Plus, despite being much smaller, they stock things the big guys don’t – like window glazing compound.

  • Jennericgirl says:

    Yes, I would miss ACE! ACE is the place with the helpful hardware man! :)

  • Chaz says:

    Yes, I would miss Ace because it is small and efficient. I avoid Home Depot just like I avoid Walmart, they are just stores and are just pains.

  • I worked at an Ace (ish, more later) for years in high school and college. I feel a more distinct affinity, I am sure.Ace is notably better than True Value (product selection, presence of a quality house brand), but neither of them are, generally, directly comparable to any of the other brands you’ve done this for.They are more like national distributors of products with loose franchise rights. Like another three steps past Hallmark, where you get to name the store and mess with some stuff about it. /My/ favorite hardware store chain is Westlake. They are a regional chain, which is actually a franchise of Ace itself. Locally, I find about 3/4 of people call it “Westlake,” vs. “Ace.” The local hardware store near my house now is always called “Mack” and never the “True Value” by anyone, though it is.BTW, if all these guys went out of business, I would be incapable of actually getting work done; Lowe’s and Home Depot are “Home Improvement Centers” — they expressly don’t carry some products, and the employees don’t have a generalized understanding of tools or work. They seem proud of this: try complaining that they are poor hardware stores, and half the time they will counter with the other title. Annoying.

  • Kyle Rohde says:

    Yes, I would absolutely miss Ace. As Chaz said, its a little unfair for you to talk about the Ace brand like you would Starbuck’s. Ace is a co-op that hardware store owners can buy into, but the amount of merchandise they bring in outside of Ace is up to them. True Value and Ace are the only real hardware store chains out there and I would greatly miss either, should they go away.Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menard’s are not hardware stores. They’re big boxes for getting lumber and larger items like appliances, doors and windows. They’re not the place for getting help with small repairs around the house – the stuff that you’re doing 90% of the time.I worked in a True Value store for five years during high school and college and now live in Kansas City, where the Westlake chain dominates to the point that Ace is really the only option. They are clean, well-organized, nicely run stores but their customer service could be improved. That being said, its still far better than the big boxes.Verdict – YES, I would miss Ace.

  • Cory O'Brien says:

    I might be a little biased, since I live near one of the best Ace Hardwares in the country (Benicia, CA – John Madden came here to film a commercial it’s so good!) but I’d miss them.Their staff is fantastic, and they’re super helpful without being pushy. They also seem to actually know where all of their stuff is and what it’s used for, so if you have a question, they can usually give you a pretty good answer.I’m sure not everyone is so lucky, but yes, I’d miss my Ace.

  • Ami says:

    I have to admit, the answer is no. Maybe it’s because I’m a chick who doesn’t use tools, but I have never ever set foot in an ACE Hardware. Furthermore, I don’t even know if there is an ACE Hardware in the Tampa Bay area. The name ACE doesn’t even enter my mind when thinking about a hardware store. Lowe’s and Home Depot are it…more woman friendly in my opinion, but after reading the posts above maybe I should check one out. Didn’t ACE try the “woman” angle a few years back? I guess it didn’t work…

  • Kyle … like Best Western, Burger King, UPS Stores, ACE Hardware is a franchised business. A company’s reputation and perception matter. This doesn’t change if it is a corporate-owned business or a franchise-owned business.Everyone … the reason I chose ACE Hardware for the “Would You Miss” post is because ACE ranks #10 in the J.D. Power/BusinessWeek ranking of “Customer Service Champs.” The unscientific sampling of positive comments here, backs-up ACE’s solid ranking.

  • Jodi Kaplan says:

    Funny, I just wrote about hardware stores on my blog yesterday. I said that in order for a hardware store (or any other store, for that matter) to stand out it has to be memorable in some way.They can’t compete on “price” or “quality” because the big box stores will eat their lunch (and their profits). Instead, they need to offer something the big guys don’t, such as a “help desk” or a hotline, or a “rent-a-fix-it” guy/gal.And, no Ace doesn’t do that, so they wouldn’t be missed.

  • Justine Foo says:

    Ditto on the helpful hardware man. Growing up in Atlanta, we went to our local ACE for years. I should say that despite the fact the jingle has stuck with me, I’m more loyal to a local hardware jaunt than the ACE brand specifically. So, if it’s true that mom & pop shops would be hurt by them leaving, then I’m even more upset by that.

  • Steve Blackard says:

    My wife’s family owned a small hardware store for over 100 years in what became a declining part of town. They went out of business due to the “big box” home improvement stores. I think that Ace is the closest thing you can find to that old Erie Hardware Store. I would definitely miss the service and attention to the customer that Ace has always offered. The only issue with Ace is that they don’t have the selection of products that you find at a Home Depot. It’s too bad that Ace can’t expand or that Home Depot and Lowes won’t take cue from them in terms of knowledge and service. My brother is the manager of a Home Depot store and frequently tells me about corporate telling him to cut man hours. Anytime I walk into a Home Depot or Lowes, I question whether or not there is a warm body in the entire store who can effectively help me with a smile. Once again because of the bottom line, the customer ultimately loses out on service and a good retail experience.

  • Kyle Rohde says:

    John – sorry, you’re wrong. Ace is a coop, just as True Value is. This gives the owners much more freedom than a franchise situation – it is most definitely different than Burger King (Best Western is also one). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ace_Hardwarehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retailers%27_cooperative

  • Got it Kyle. ACE is a Co-Op and not a full-on franchise. Thanks for clarifying.

  • Kyle Rohde says:

    One more follow-up – I still like the question of whether people would miss Ace or not. Its an interesting case because of the freedom coop agreements give the store owners. But there are attributes that all Ace and True Value stores should adhere to, regardless, if they want to compete against the big boxes:- Friendlier service- Better, more personal service- Faster service- The neighborhood hardware store image that people still identify with- Knowledge (its tough to find a big box employee that really knows the whole store, easier at an Ace or True Value)I think many of the stores, including the Westlake megachain of Aces here in KC, do some of this well but have big room for improvement. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked through my local store without anyone asking me if I need help. I’m 26 and I don’t know if its that people think I’m just a kid or what, but it bugs the heck out of me, having been on the other side and helped people much more consistently. I expect that kind of service from a big box, not my local hardware store.

  • geno says:

    I’ve grown up with Ace Hardware – I liked it for most of the reasons others have stated but…Now, I will go to Lowe’s every time. I find that I have a harder time getting the details of my service needs at Ace. Lowe’s is a big box but the folks in the specific departments like paint, spend more time with me.Will I miss Ace, sadly no.

  • Trevor says:

    I thought they already went out of business to be honest. Maybe they need another commercial with John Madden to let the world know they’re still the place for the helpful hardware people of America. Maybe they should just slip gently into the abyss. I won’t miss them.

  • Bubba says:

    I would definitely miss the convenience of having an Ace Hardware just a third of a mile from home. I can park just a few feet from the door, get in and out quickly, get help from friendly employees, and find most of the items I need. It’s clean and organized.Once in awhile, I’ll have to drive 10 minutes to the big box store for an odd item. The employees there are worthless, and the place is a mess. Things are always stocked in the wrong bins, so you have to be careful and double-check everything. Sure, the prices are a bit lower, but it’s hardly worth the hassle.

  • Larry Cooper says:

    John, I would definitely miss them. There was an Ace in my neighborhood in Phoenix, and they were great when I didn’t want to go 10 miles to Lowe’s/HD. Now that I live in College Station, there was no Ace Hardware, until last week when a new one opened.Ace works because you typically come in with a specific small repair problem to solve, and they are usually good at helping the consumer pick the right product and can share a little knowledge about how to fix the problem. As long as Ace owners can find employees who are know stuff and actually want to help people, they will have a nice niche.

  • Ben says:

    I haven’t been to an Ace in years. The last time I went the staff was helpful and friendly, but nothing spectacular.If I want hardware, I’ll go to a specialty hardware store and get great service and hard to find or special order items.So, no. I wouldn’t miss them.

  • Violet says:

    If it was the Village Ace Hardware store in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, the answer is yes. It would be hugely missed. The people there are wonderful. I’ve found nothing to match it here in Connecticut.

  • Jason says:

    I will say right off that I work for an Ace Hardware in TN so obviously I am quite biased. However, having worked for several different complains before coming to Ace, I must say that is a distinct difference in the way Ace treats its employees. While I’m sure this would probably vary from store to store or at least owner to owner, the Ace I work for treats its employee’s as assets. It is probably because of this fact that a majority of its help has tenures of 10 years and up. Also, for Ace as a whole, customer service is engrained into the employee’s from the beginning. I have always been told that my main job and loyalty is to take care of the customer. That is why I am definitely a company man.

  • Eddie says:

    Ace’s are all independently owned and operated by people in our local community. So they are the closest thing to the mom and pop hardware stores. Ace can replace window screens cut glass and many other stuff that a big box stores wont do. So yes I would miss our Ace’s.

  • Mike says:

    Ami – ACE is NOT a franchise. It is a cooperative of independently owned hardware stores. ACE was founded by a Chicago area group of hardware store owners in order to pool their resources and increase their purchasing power. That’s still the model. Every independent ACE branded store owner is a shareholder in the ACE Corporation. And that’s of great benefit to the owners and their customers as it eliminates the friction points found in the typical franchisor-franchisee relationship. There are also ACE “retailers” who purchase from ACE whose store(s) do not operate under the ACE brand. I’m sold on ACE to the opint that I will be opening my first ACE store this summer.