Although Ace Hardware closed its Hilo location last month after more than 30 years of business, its new location might be open for business by fall.
On April 21, Ace Hardware’s Kilauea Avenue location closed permanently after a damaged roof impeded business operations for the better part of a year. However, just up the road at 550 Kilauea Ave., signs on an unused building proclaim the hardware store will open there “soon.”
“Construction might be done by July, maybe,” said store manager Kelvin Nishiura, although he added that predicting a construction timeline is difficult.
The new building requires a new air-conditioning system and a fire suppression system to be installed, which Nishiura said will be time-consuming work by itself. Then the inventory and other utilities will have to be transferred over to the new location, which could take weeks.
“I’m hopeful that we could be open by August,” Nishiura said, but acknowledged that such a prediction is optimistic.
The move is the end result of a structural problem that has plagued the more-than-60-year-old building for nearly a year. Nishiura said a sagging roof beam led to the entire front section of the building being closed to customers last July.
That closure caused business to suffer, Nishiura said.
No longer able to use the front entrance, customers were forced to enter through a side entrance accessible by a single-vehicle-width service driveway. With many Ace customers being senior citizens, the difficulty of access led to fewer customer visits.
Nishiura said the decision to move to the new location was made in January, with Ace Hardware purchasing the unused building shortly thereafter.
The building at the new location, Nishiura said, is smaller than the old one — which was about 12,000 square feet — but will at least be fully accessible to customers when it opens.
As for Ace’s 16 employees, Nishiura said they will be moved to other Ace Hardware or Ben Franklin Crafts locations in the area until the new site is open for business.
For his part, Nishiura said he will not be store manager at the new location, but will continue to work for Ace’s parent company in Hawaii, HouseMart.
“I think it’s unfortunate what’s happened,” Nishiura said. “It’s hard to see the store go after all these years.”
Email Michael Brestovansky at email@example.com.