Who Loves Old Hardware Stores & Historic Downtown Real Estate

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Who loves old hardware stores? In 2018 the owners of ACE Hardware in downtown Ypsilanti, MI informed me that they planned to retire and close the store because their real estate broker informed them that the building could be worth more vacant than occupied by an ACE Hardware. I said no, you can't close, you are a important institution in this community, please please find a buyer. 6 months passed and they called me again, we can't find a buyer, we are going to have to close the store. I said again, no, ACE Hardware can not close, something must be done. I put together a investor/partner team, recruited my wife Kathlynn to manage the business, applied for an SBA loan through a local bank and worked hard to convince the ACE Corporation itself this store was worth saving. In early 2019 we acquired the building and the business, the 2 owners were very happy because they were adequately rewarded for the 30 years they each put into the business and were proud that a fresh new crop of staff were hired to continue their legacy. My wife Kathlynn recruited 8 new excellent staff members and retained the best of the existing staff. In 2019 the store celebrated its 95th anniversary and everything was going great. Then in March, Covid-19 hit, our heads were spinning, do we close now? Will the community support us? The staff responded splendidly, everyone pivoted, put in all the safety protocols and as the big box stores struggled with safety and their supply chains, customers supported our ACE in record numbers, sales boomed through curb side service, online ordering, special ordering. Today was the ACE Corporation annual convention done virtually this year, the CEO of ACE Corporation gave the opening address, and with tens of thousands of people on the virtual call, he recognized Ypsilanti Ace Hardware in the great City of Ypsilanti, MI as a new leader representing the ACE Hardware brand. We are so proud of what we have done, it is the greatest thing I have done in business saving this store and all credit is given to the team: ACE Hardware Corp, the SBA, the former owners, my partner/investors, the Ypsilanti community and extremely loyal customers, University Bank, my wife Kathlynn, and the amazing staff of 9 who keep this business running every day. Oh, and it was a good real estate play, just got the new appraisal

@Stewart Beal I sold yearbook ads every year in high school for Calvary Christian Academy in Ypsilanti. Selling yearbook ads for $50 or $100 a pop wasn’t the easiest thing to do, especially since all of our advertisers were small business owners and those $50 or $100 checks were coming straight out of their pocket. As much as I tried to convince them of the value they were getting for their ad, I knew it was basically charity. There were a few local businesses that I could count on every year to buy an ad and Congdon’s Ace Hardware was one of them. They were always very supportive of the local community. Good folk.