Biz Beat

New Ace Hardware in east Modesto ready to open; diverse offerings await shoppers

Oh, what a difference a new hardware store makes.

Residents on Modesto’s east side have been clamoring for another large hardware store since Orchard Supply closed last year. Now the Oakdale Road site is brimming with life again as Ace Hardware prepares for its opening Monday.

The owners of Escalon’s Strand Ace Hardware have been working tirelessly to renovate and stock the new store since their takeover of the space was announced this past April. The Swanson family bought their Escalon store in 1975, when they took over from its founders the Strand brothers, who started the hardware business more than 70 years ago.

The new Ace looks remarkably like the old Orchard, but with different branding, different product lines and a more diverse array of merchandise. Strand Ace Vice President Dirk Swanson, whose grandparents started the business, said that while they didn’t set out to keep the store similar to the old OSH, many of the products naturally fit in the same spaces.

For instance, popular weed-killer Round-Up is in the exact same aisle as it was before. And that’s not the only thing shoppers should find familiar from before. About 10 employees from OSH have been hired into Ace, including 25-year store veteran Tammy Pitts, now the Ace assistant manager. In all, the Swansons hired about 55 employees to staff the new site, and have openings for a handful more.

“We had a dedicated customer base when we were Orchard, and we’ve already seen regular customers come up to the doors in anticipation of the Strand Ace opening,” Pitts said. “They’re so happy we came back.”

The store has also added a lot of products to its inventory that Orchard never carried. You can now buy dog and cat food as well as other pet supplies and toys. Another aisle is stocked with popular small appliances like Ninja blenders, SodaStreams and Keurig coffee makers and the one next to it with kitchen storage like Tupperware and Mason jars. You’ll even find a whole aisle of greeting cards, making the Ace a one-stop shop for a variety of needs.

Swanson said they wanted to stock products that would appeal to the store’s mix of both urban and rural customers. So they’ll have smaller yard gear like chainsaws and weed wackers as well as tractors and riding movers. The store will also provide equipment repair (via its Escalon site, but with drop-off in Modesto) and rental services. And for the urban or rural farmer, the store also stocks beekeeping supplies.

Ace is also the exclusive seller and mixer of Magnolia Home premium paints, from Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” fame. Just, you know, bring your own shiplap.

One of the more popular sections of the OSH was its large outdoor garden center. The new nursery will be stocked exclusively with plants from local nurseries, Swanson said. The nursery space is about five times larger than their existing garden center in Escalon.

The new Ace also has a big selection of work clothes, garage storage options, grilling equipment and gear, and even locally produced snacks and food gift baskets (think nuts and other treats). Plus, of course, you can expect all the lumber, nails, tools and other stuff that make hardware stores essential.

“People come up to the door every 10 minutes to see if we’re open,” Swanson said. “We feel amazing about (this location). The response we’ve gotten on social media and phone calls has been amazing.

The new Strand Ace Hardware at 1800 Oakdale Road opens Monday, July 8. Its hours are 7 to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 209-488-4224 or visit www.strandace.com.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs multiple times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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