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Ace announces its Coolest Hardware Stores.

Ace Hardware Corporation recognized six Ace Hardware stores with its fourth-annual "Coolest Hardware Store" awards. The winners were honored during Ace's annual Platinum Conference, held in Las Vegas.

"Being a 'Coolest Hardware Store' isn't just about having a unique building and products. It's about meeting the community's needs in a way that only a small business can, just as the teams at these stores do every day," says Kane Calamari, vice president of retail operations and new business at Ace Hardware Corporation. "Congratulations to all of this year's winners."

The winners included:

* Braly Builders Supply; Palestine, Texas: Braly Builders Supply makes its home in the former and now-renovated Rusk Elementary School after owners Stephen and Vicki Braly renovated the 1938 building. Throughout the store, old meets new, as the decor utilizes historic pieces to enhance merchandising and maintain a consistent theme. While the store shines in product offering, competitive pricing and local promotions, the incredible charm and atmosphere make it one of the coolest places around.

* Mary's Ace Hardware; New Orleans: Mary's Ace Hardware makes its home in a unique section of a cool city: the French Quarter of New Orleans. The store has thrived by catering to the traditions inherent in life in the Big Easy; the heavy culinary aspect of the French Quarter contributed to the decision to turn the second floor into a 1,250-square-foot section of restaurant and kitchen supplies. The store also offers specialty goods aimed at those taking care of their homes in the historic district, such as supplies for the historic shutters. Mary's Ace Hardware stays engaged with its local community by offering the Barkus Room, a room set aside for the planning of the annual dog parade, the Barkus Parade, to the community for meetings.

* Nutter Hardware; Upper Arlington, Ohio: Nutter Hardware possesses the aesthetics of a classic general store, complete with a functioning potbelly stove and old-fashioned ceiling fans. The store reinforces its classic style with American know-how, provided by Owner Chuck Nutter's experience with Nutter Handyman Services, his other business. Nutter Hardware's neighborly status was recently reinforced when city-wide power outages knocked the store's card processing systems offline; Nutter Hardware didn't hesitate to accept IOUs for needed emergency items.

* Rylee's Ace Hardware; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Rylee's has a long history of keeping community members gliding towards their favorite wintertime activity by buying and selling used ice skates. Shoppers are kept interested in the large, unique housewares area through free weekly cooking demonstrations and classes held in the store's fully functioning kitchen. Owners Lori and Todd Terpstra "overinvest" in emergency items to make sure they will meet the needs of their customers and community in a pinch. This devotion to their community means they've earned the tag line "Rely on Rylee's."

* Steamboat Ace Hardware; Steamboat Springs, Colorado: Steamboat Ace Hardware, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, is a 26,000-plus-square-foot log cabin structure that blends into the Western ambience of Steamboat, Colorado, with two covered patios, a huge entryway, and a 20-foot water wheel. Steamboat Ace Hardware supports the local community by donating $70,000 annually to more than 130 community groups, including museums, the arts, historical restoration, education and more.

* Steve's Ace Home & Garden; Dubuque, Iowa: Steve's Ace features a localized product offering including the baby gear store Sprout, flowers, gift shop, grilling supplies, power tools, Stihl, and a wine and cheese niche. The 10,000-square-foot store features three greenhouses and a two-acre nursery area that showcases seasonal and live goods. The store also hosts a variety of special events: Ladies D-i-y Night, Terrarium Making Class, New Homeowners D-i-y Night, Master Gardener seminars, wine and cheese tastings, canning classes, and even a diaper-changing event for kids. HI
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Title Annotation:NEWSMAKERS
Publication:Hardware Retailing
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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