Complete Range of Hardware and Housewares On Display at Costello’s Ace Hardware Store
BEST PLACE: “We plan an improved inventory, with more choices, good prices with a wider range, higher quality, better products, and excellent customer service. Now Costello’s Ace is the Place!” Peter Schluter, managing partner of Costello’s Ace Hardware in Princeton, and Jean Irizarry, housewares manager, are shown near a display of popular housewares.
By Jean Stratton
What is it about hardware stores that is so intriguing to so many people? All those gadgets and tools! From screwdrivers and shovels to pruners and paint brushes to brooms and bird feeders to hoses and hammers, grills and garden ornaments — it is an endless supply of basics and more.
Nowhere is this more visible than at the new Costello’s Ace Hardware Store in the Princeton Shopping Center. Formerly Smith’s Ace Hardware, the store became home to new owners in October 2022.
Longtime and loyal Smith’s Ace customers will be pleased that another family business is setting up shop after George Smith and his brothers were in charge for 20 years.
“Costello’s and Princeton are a good fit,” points out Peter Schluter, Princeton Costello’s Ace managing partner. “Our CEO is Michael Costello, son of the founder Vinnie Costello. It’s a real family-owned and operated business. Vinnie opened the first store in Long Island in 1976, and now Costello’s has 46 Ace stores from Long Island to Virginia. We really are the ‘Helpful Place.’
“We are also very pleased with our Princeton Shopping Center location, with its convenient setting and free parking.”
After careers in education and athletics, Schluter enjoyed being with Smith’s Ace for two years, and is looking forward to the new association with Costello’s.
“We have great plans, including a more open concept to the layout of the store,” he says. “It will be easier to browse, and all the departments and items will be conveniently displayed and accessible.”
Customers seem to like everything, he adds. “They’ll come in for one thing, and then often find something else they want. They love to look around.”
Also, points out David Tabor, Costello’s director of operations and liaison with corporate Ace, “During COVID, people were staying home more, and many decided to renovate and make improvements to their houses. We sold a lot of paint and other supplies during that time.”
In addition, with the advent of COVID-19, people increasingly wanted to spend time outdoors, notes Schluter. “Grills are extremely popular. The grilling department has really become a year-round business, and we will be expanding that entire area. We carry a wide range of grills of all kinds, including state-of-the-art Weber. We offer delivery and full assembly in Princeton.”
Whether it’s a grill or a garden hose, Costello’s Ace will have it. The store stocks more than 30,000 different items — 30 different hoses, 100 different kinds of nails, all kinds of light bulbs, and new things all the time.
The paint department has grown significantly over the years, and it now focuses on Benjamin Moore paint, as well as Clark + Kensington, the Ace private brand. All the painting supplies, stains, brushes, sprays, sandpaper, etc. are available. Both commercial house painters and residential painters are regular customers, notes Schluter.
Birds in the Princeton area are well looked after, adds Schluter, and Costello’s has a complete supply for our feathered friends. Feed of all kinds, bird feeders and houses, and squirrel-proof items are all in stock.
“Bird feeding supplies are a year-round business now too,” he says. “People come in all the time for these.”
They also come in for outdoor power tools, such as leaf blowers, he reports. “We have battery-operated outdoor equipment, including the EGO brand, which meet the noise requirements of the municipality.”
And — although we can’t be sure with these unpredictable weather patterns — just in case snow is on the way this winter, Costello’s Ace is ready. Snow blowers, shovels, ice melt, ice scrapers, and more are all in stock.
And, moving on, it may only be January, but many customers are already looking ahead to spring, and shoppers will soon find all they need. Mulch, potting and top soil, fertilizer, seeds, plants, grass seed, the popular Scott’s lawn care products, as well as a complete line of garden ornaments and tools — pruners and rakes to wheelbarrows and hedge trimmers — will all await customers.
Mailboxes, outdoor thermometers, signs and numbers, screens and shades, and the all-important picnic needs, thermos, cooler, and basket, will be on hand.
All the hardware cabinetry, also door locks, padlocks, and hooks, nails, screws, and bolts of every kind, tool kits, and plumbing items, from pipes and tubing to toilet seats, are available, as are shower caddies and curtains, and storage containers.
Also, batteries, smoke detectors, cleaning products, chisels, work gloves, Sloggers waterproof shoes and boots — the list goes on and on.
And Costello’s Ace is the “fix-it” place, points out Schluter. “We sharpen knives, make keys, cut glass, and cut and repair screens and storm windows. All things customers appreciate and that make things easier for them, we can provide.”
Clocks and Cutting Boards
Housewares have become very popular, continues Schluter. “We are really the only housewares department in Princeton. And customers really love this department. They will find blenders, coffee makers and coffee grinders, cookware, toaster ovens, mixers, and so much more.”
Indeed. Pots and pans, popcorn poppers, dish towels, irons, candles, cutting boards, clocks, popular Melamine trays, and a full range of kitchen items are available. If you need an herb stripper, Costello’s Ace has one!
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is an eclectic miscellany of merchandise that will keep you looking and looking!
“We offer so much to customers,” points out Schluter. “I enjoy our clientele and my co-workers. It is fun to be here and watch the customers come in and see how much they enjoy spending time here. Also, kids come in a lot, and they love to look around.”
There are a lot of fun toys and novelties to pique their interest too. Play-Doh, toy cars, yo-yos, Jax sets, and more are all on display.
The store offers a very wide range of prices, says Schluter. “Nineteen cents for one bolt to $1,899 for a top-of-the-line grill and everything in between. We also have regular sales and continue to offer the special Ace Rewards Gift program.”
Service and Advice
A sale on now through January 17 features a 75 percent discount on all remaining Christmas items, from lights and ornaments to artificial trees and wreaths.
Costello’s Ace Hardware is set apart in several ways, believes Schluter. “We offer attentive customer service and advice, quality products, and excellent prices. We are a family business, and we want to become a part of the community. We support area charities and organizations.
“Last October, I was an honorary guest bartender at Ivy Inn’s program to raise money for Aunt Chubby’s Luncheonette project to help those in need. We raised $4,250 that night.
“I really look forward to continuing to be active in the community and watching the growth of the store, helping to serve our customers’ needs and providing the best for them.”
And for so many Costello Ace customers from the Princeton area, including those who are not keen to cross Route 1 and make the trek to Home Depot or Lowe’s, Ace is not just the place, it is the “Indispensable Place!”
The store is open seven days: Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (609) 430-4300. It also offers online shopping service. Visit its website at costellosace.com.