Smith’s Ace Hardware just got bigger and better! Its companion store, Smith’s Ace Housewares, has now relocated with the hardware in expanded space at the Princeton Shopping Center.
“We wanted to have everything together, and we needed more room to expand,” explains owner George Smith. “Housewares is very popular, and we opened it originally in 2004 because of customer demand. People really wanted housewares.”
In its 10 years at the Shopping Center, Smith’s Ace Hardware has truly become the indispensable place! Carrying both a complete range of hardware and housewares, it offers customers an attractive local alternative to Home Depot and Lowe’s.
“I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else,” says a long-time customer. “They have everything you need, and the service is great. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful.”
George Smith does know the hardware business. He and his brothers now own four Ace Hardware stores — in Yardville, Mercerville, Newtown, Pa., and the Princeton location. They are continuing the family business, started by their grandfather in 1946.
“Yardville Supply started out as a concrete plant, then added lumber and a hardware store,” says Mr. Smith. “My dad worked there and became president of the company. My brother Ed and I started helping out when we were 15 or so. I stayed in the building materials business, and Ed was in the ready mix business.”
In 1997, they joined Ace Hardware, which was established 75 years ago and has 5,000 stores across the United States. It offers a broad selection of its own private label products, as well as many name brand items.
The Princeton store opened in 2002, and has lived up to the Smiths’ expectations. “We thought Princeton would be a good location, and the space was available,” recalls Mr. Smith. “There has been an absolutely great reaction. The way the community has responded has been exceptional. People still come in all the time, and say “We’re so glad you’re here!’”
The expanded space includes 18,000 square feet and is filled with all the tools, supplies, and gadgets one expects to find in a hardware store. Everything is conveniently arranged according to department, with a full section devoted to housewares.
“We have 30,000 different items,” reports Mr. Smith. “30 different hoses, 100 different kinds of nails, 300 light bulbs, and new things all the time.
“The goal was to expand and not lose sales. Everything was completely rearranged — a total remodel, and we did the work ourselves. We hired the electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc. Getting the remodel completed and in place has been a challenge. It took over a year and a half, and Princeton Township and the Shopping Center were very helpful. Everyone came together to make it happen.”
Room to Browse
Everyone loves hardware stores. There is so much to look at, and something so intriguing about all those gadgets. Now there is even more room to browse.
The paint department has grown significantly over the years, reports Mr. Smith. It now carries five lines of Benjamin Moore paint, including the environmentally-friendly Gen X, as well as the Ace brand lines, such as Clark + Kensington. All the painting supplies, stains, and varnishes are on display.
Bird seed of all kinds, feeders, and houses are year-round sellers, and as everyone heads outdoors for spring and summer, Smith’s Ace can furnish all the needs. Outdoor furniture, bistro tables with umbrellas, Tiki torches, solar lights, and hammocks are all in stock. Grills, including state-of-the-art Weber gas grills, are big sellers, and the store offers even more in the expanded space.
Lawn care supplies, from potting soil and planters to weed killers, grass seed and turf enhancers are available, as is a complete line of garden tools — pruners and rakes to wheelbarrows and hedge trimmers.
Mail boxes, outdoor thermometers, signs and numbers, and the all-important picnic needs: thermos, cooler, and basket are available.
All the hardware cabinetry, also door locks, padlocks, and hooks, nails, screws, and bolts of every kind; and plumbing items, from pipes and tubing to toilet seats, are on hand, as are shower caddies and curtains and storage containers. And don’t forget buckets, brooms, and bags!
“We also sharpen knives and scissors, and make keys, We’re the Fix-It place,” adds Mr. Smith. “We also have new wall and ceiling lighting fixtures, new faucets, and expanded cleaning supplies.”
Housewares have become very popular, he continues. “We have tried to get things others don’t have. We have the Ace brand products as well as many others, and everything is very good quality.”
Big sellers in housewares include the very popular “Soda Stream”, which allows customers to make their own soda at home. “It’s made in Israel, is ecologically important, and ultimately is less expensive,” says Mr. Smith. “There is a COT (a special container), which carbonates the water, and there are more than 30 different flavors. We’ve had it about a year, and it just keeps getting more and more popular.”
Blenders are always favorite housewares items, and Smith’s Ace has them all, including the very special $400 Vitamix model, which can do it all: make soup, juice, peanut butter, even flour.
The Lodge enamel cast iron products, including Dutch ovens, are big sellers, as is the line of Melamine dishware in wonderfully colorful patterns, and with coordinated place mats, tablecloths, and napkins.
Tea kettles, trays, toasters, and timers are available, as are clocks, measuring cups, drying mats. and colorful aprons; Pots and pans, coffeemakers, and cutting boards in many designs and styles are always highlighted.
Canning is making a comeback, report the housewares staff. “Some people are canning with a passion now. They’re making relish, even mustard. A lot of people can tomatoes and fruit, and make jam. We have all the Ball jars and other needs.”
Prices at Smith’s Ace are geared for every pocketbook — from five cents to $1000, and everything in between.
Mr. Smith is very happy with the Shopping Center location. “I like the Princeton customers, and the diversity that is here. We have people coming from England and France and other countries, and lots of regulars. We offer a Rewards program, which accumulates. When someone spends $250, they receive a $5 coupon. And they get a $5 coupon on their birthdays. We have a lot of specials and sales as well.
“We try to fill customers’ requests, and keep their needs uppermost. We work hard to offer quality products and the best service.”
Smith’s Ace Hardware & Housewares is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8 to 5, Sunday 9 to 3. (609) 430-4300.