In something of a déjà vu, renovations have begun on the former Evergreen IGA grocery store at 1540 13th St West, to convert it into a new King’s Ace Hardware Store. It will be owner Skip King’s sixth store in the Billings area.
But having a hardware store in mid-town Billings, is not a new idea. In the early 60s, the Odegaard family operated, quite successfully, a hardware store at the same location. King believes a need for a hardware store to serve that neighborhood still exists and he has set aside other business plans, so as not to lose an opportunity to locate a hardware store there. “We are excited to build on a traditional legacy, and to be a part of that community,” said King.
Recognizing that people who live in the heavy residential area between Grand Avenue and the Rims must travel some distance to get to a hardware store, King had long contemplated the idea of locating a store in the area. When he had an inkling that the IGA store might be closing, he initiated negotiations to lease the building. The plan fell into place so quickly and easily, King said he was left asking himself “what have I done,” because it hadn’t really been part of his immediate plans. He is enthusiastically forging ahead, however, with the goal of being able to open the store in February.
To open Evergreen King’s Ace Hardware in time for the spring growing season is important because the new store will feature an extensive lawn and garden center.
With some 34,000 square feet, the store will end up being the largest King’s Ace Hardware store. It will certainly have the largest parking lot.
Evergreen King’s Ace Hardware will be similar to the Zimmerman Trail store – a full service hardware store, but also featuring a Hallmark gift store and a Montana-made boutique. It will also have a huge pet department, outdoor power equipment, a “big grilling and patio section”, with space to spare, about which King said, “we are going to grow into the space.”
Contractors are currently removing the cabinets and flooring, and will soon be installing new flooring, new doors, a new roof and a new HVAC unit. Painting will start in a couple of weeks and new LED lights will be installed. Signs have been ordered and will go up as soon as they arrive. The parking lot will be crack seal and coated. Merchandising will begin in December.
In the meantime eight employees for the new store have already been hired. Mike Albertson has been named store manager and the assistant manager will be Tyler Powers.
The store will employ a total of some 20 to 25 people, who will be trained and ready to go at the opening. One of the advantages of having other stores, said King, is that employees can be training in advance.
Said King about his business, “I want to be the best hardware store we possibly can be. Our business model at Ace is to have good help and to be helpful to our customers. We live by that, because there are too many other places people can go. We have to be helpful.”
King announced that the company’s store at 4170 State Avenue has been undergoing extensive renovation this summer and is nearing completion. They have doubled the size of the parking lot, modernized it and added another register – and “it’s stuffed full of inventory.”
Next year the Laurel King Ace Hardware Store will be remodeled. “Laurel is growing too,” said King.