By: William Morris
January 6, 2018
OWATONNA — The new Arrow Ace Hardware store on Vine Street will welcome its first customers Monday, but don’t expect to find the entire stock in the new building just yet.
Arrow Hardware broke ground last year on the site of the former Arnold Hotel, and the 11,000-square foot store is nearly complete, despite delays with brickwork and a few other areas. Martketing and Advertising Manager Mike Schwertfeger said the company is now starting to move merchandise in to fill the empty shelves.
“We have basically all the shelving set up already, and now we’re moving over some product from our old store to our new store,” he said. “The lawn and garden section is already put together, and this week we’re moving over the plumbing department.”
Starting Monday, sections of the new store will be ready for customers, complete with cash registers to check them out. Much of the store’s inventory will still be in its current location nearby on Cedar Avenue, though, which means customers will be buying pipe fittings in one building, but the wrench to tighten them in the other.
“I wish I could just snap my fingers and move everything overnight,” Arrow President Dave Nieman said. “There’ll be a little inconvenience for the month of January, as we move the store department by department. Fortunately, since it’s only 100 feet away, it’s an easier move than if it was across town.”
Arrow anticipates having all its stock moved to the new building by the end of the month, but customers will have one more chance to shop at the current space before it closes for good. The company is planning a store moving sale with clearance items from across the company to take place in February.
“We’ll have lots of items that are going to be at great discounts for people, and we’re even going to be bringing in items from our other stores too, so people from Owatonna will have great sales to attend in February,” Schwertfeger said.
A formal grand opening at the new store is planned for March or April, and Schwertfeger said the company is excited to show customers offerings that just didn’t fit in the company’s current cramped storefront.
“One of the things Arrow Ace is known for in our other locations is our grill departments,” he said. “Because of our space in the Owatonna store, we haven’t been able to really show people all the features and the great things we do with grilling in our other stores, but that’s all going to change when our new store opens up, because we have a really great size of a grill department.”
Other areas that will be expanding in the new store include the Milwaukee Tool selection, and a larger space for the screen and window repair department previously tucked away in the Cedar store basement.
Another addition at the new store has little to do with hardware. A year after the Hallmark store near Hy-Vee closed its doors, the Arrow store will open with a new Hallmark Gold Crown store inside. It’s the third Hallmark store in an Arrow location, joining the Mankato and St. Peter stores.
“[That was] in October of this year, brand new to us, and it’s been a very good thing. We’re very happy,” said Schwertfeger, who acknowledged the combination can lead to some interesting selections in the checkout line. “[Customers] are buying a quart of oil for their chainsaw, and they’re also buying some birthday cards.”
Nieman said the new store will open with the same staff that ran the previous location for the time being, but he expects additional growth with the larger location and selection on Vine.
“As sales grow, I’m sure we’ll be adding more [staff],” he said.
William Morris got his start in the newspaper trade as a recurring editorial intern in Wisconsin and has been writing about business, government and crime at the Owatonna People’s Press since 2015. He now splits his time working with the newspaper and as Associate Editor for Forge.