The Longview Triangle Center’s Ace Hardware store will close this summer despite record revenues for the franchise’s parent company and recent growth in the hardware store industry.
Bret Granstrom, the store’s lead operations manager, confirmed Monday that the Longview shop is currently in a clearance period, and is expected to close in mid-June. Grandstrom declined to share any additional details.
The Ace Hardware Corporation reported in February that it made $5.7 billion in 2018, a 6.1% gain from 2017. The last quarter in 2018 brought in almost $1.4 billion, an all-time high for the company, according to a news release. Profits for the Longview shop were unavailable Tuesday.
“Strong new store growth, increased same-store sales and a 43 percent increase in acehardware.com revenues helped us realize a healthy 5.7 percent increase in revenues during the fourth quarter,” said Ace Hardware President and CEO John Venhuizen in a prepared statement in February.
The Ace Hardware Corporation holds one of the largest shares in the U.S. retail hardware industry, according to IBIS World, an international market researcher. And on the whole, that industry is doing well.
According to and IBIS World report, the U.S. hardware store industry has grown by 1.1% in the last five years. It’s expected to generate almost $26 billion this year, the report says.
“Rising values of residential construction, greater per capita disposable income and higher private spending on home improvements have all contributed to greater demand for hardware stores during the current period,” the report says.
However, the IBIS World report also shows that the number of hardware stores has declined by just under 20,000 businesses since 2014.
Lindsey Cope, community engagement director for the Cowlitz Economic Development Council said the age of digital commerce likely plays a part in store closures like this.
“Unfortunately the closing of stores like Ace Hardware follows suit with not just the closing of hardware stores, but department stores in general,” Cope said. “Just like every other industry, they are competing with online retailers.”
Longview also has a saturated local market of hardware stores, including Lowes, Home Depot, True Value, Baker Lumber and others, Cope said. That increased competition might also put a strain on the local Ace Hardware, she said.
Triangle Town Center NW LLC, the San Diego-based company that owns the strip mall property and leases Ace a building there, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. It is unclear if a new tenant is lined up to take Ace’s place in the center.
Ace Hardware has been part of the Triangle Center since 1999, when it opened a 32,000-square-foot shop in what had been the old Ernst store. At the time, it was part of an enclosed shopping mall.
Ace was one of the handful of businesses that stayed in the center after it was remodeled into a strip mall in the early 2000s. The business eventually moved out of the Ernst building and into its current space adjacent to Ocean Beach Highway.
The store also outlasted the introduction of Home Depot in 2001 and Lowes in 2005, despite some concern that the “big box stores” could but the smaller shop out of business.
Ace’s closure locally “limits options (for shoppers) and decreases jobs, which is never a good thing,” Cope said.
“We are really sad to see Ace go,” Cope said. “We hope the silver lining in the whole thing is that whenever that space is available for rent, that there is somebody lined up that has a great opportunity to relocate or newly open something to take advantage of the traffic in the shopping center and also along Ocean Beach Highway.”