Columbia Star, July 12, 2013
For many years, Forest Acres residents who needed a socket wrench, nails, or plumbing parts had to travel to the impersonal big box hardware stores on Two Notch Road or Garner’s Ferry.
With the opening of the Falcon Ace Hardware at 2085 North Beltline Drive, those days are over.
Brandon Clarke, a 1992 graduate of A. C. Flora High School, has established the new Ace location in the building that formerly housed the Ritz Camera store. Although everything in the conversion from lenses to ladders has changed, one thing has remained the same. Billy Jones, who used to run the Ritz store, is now the manager of the 3,000- square foot Falcon Ace.
Clarke, who also owns another Ace store in Cayce, has hired five employees at the Beltline location and says the reception from area residents has been quite warm.
“People are happy that they don’t have to go all the way to Lowe’s or Home Depot any more,” he said. “The benefit here is you have people to help you quickly, and you can get your stuff faster.”
Besides the typical hardware store offerings like plumbing supplies, potting soil, mulch, nuts and bolts, the Falcon Ace has Yeti Coolers, Tomato Joe grills, and Craftsman tools. They will also offer seasonal items like plants and holiday decorations, according to Clarke.
Ace Hardware, according to Wikipedia, was founded in Chicago in 1924, and became a cooperative in 1973, with independent owner/ dealers the primary shareholders in the company. Since each Ace is locally owned, the look of the store is individualized. There are more than 4,000 stores nationwide, employing about 100,000 people. It has also expanded into Canada and overseas.
The presence of local businesses, according to key studies, has a much bigger impact on the economy than bigbox retailers when measured using several different indicators.
According to the book, Big Box Swindle, written by Stacy Mitchell, the arrival of large retailers like Home Depot and Walmart actually hurt the economy rather than helped it, and local businesses do more in terms of hiring, keeping wages higher, and contributing to charities. The findings in the book have been mirrored in several other large-scale studies in the United States and Canada.
Publisher’s note: I have been to Falcon Ace Hardware three times. It is great to drive five minutes to pick up an allen wrench for the disposal, a stopper for the kitchen sink, and a few nails to fix a loose board. The service was immediate, friendly, and I was out of there in a few minutes. What a joy!