Livermore will again have a midsize hardware store in town as a new Ace Hardware location is set to open this spring, replacing the Orchard Supply that closed in 2018 and has remained empty until now.
Renovation of the building located at 1450 First St. is currently underway with a soft-opening set for April 16, according to the store's general manager Eric Evensen, who also managed the store when it was Orchard Supply.
Kansas-based company Westlake Ace Hardware has been expanding throughout California since 2019, opening 12 stores in the state formerly occupied by Orchard Supply in Chico, Fresno, La Crescenta, Mountain View, Pinole, South Pasadena, Thousand Oaks, Turlock, Van Nuys, West Los Angeles, Woodland and now Livermore.
Evensen, who has been running the Pinole Ace location since Orchard Supply closed, said that returning to Livermore feels like a full circle moment.
"When I closed this building down, I knew there were some things going on behind the scenes -- some spinoff companies and so on -- and I was kind of like General (Douglas) MacArthur saying, 'I shall return!' But it was tough closing this building down with a great crew, great community, great town, very well received, very well liked by the town, so it hurt -- especially after 32 years with the company -- but it hurt this being my last store," he said.
The company is planning to hire about 50 employees from the local area to join their team, according to Evensen.
"We've been an essential business through the pandemic and I know Livermore has been lacking a midsize hardware store where we put service in front of everything," he said. "It's going to be great to be able to service the public for essential needs during the pandemic and also put some people to work."
In addition to traditional hardware products like fasteners, tools, plumbing and electrical supplies, the 31,961-square-foot Livermore Ace Hardware will feature "store-in-a-store" departments, including garden center, backyard barbecue, outdoor power equipment, tool shop, paint studio, pet supply and kitchen essentials.
The inside of the building may be reminiscent of its former occupant as the main layout will be similar but with a brand-new color scheme and decor. "(Customers) will feel at home again and they will like what they see," Evensen said, adding that he is looking forward to servicing the Livermore community again and giving people an alternative to Lowe's and Home Depot for their hardware needs.
A larger grand-opening event is being planned for mid-May where shoppers can expect sales, raffle prizes and other offerings.
"We are excited to continue our expansion in California and look forward to becoming a supportive, active and helpful part of the Livermore community," Westlake Ace Hardware President and CEO Joe Jeffries said in a statement announcing the new store. "Most of all, we are excited to show our new neighbors how we live the 'Ace Helpful Promise' every day by delivering reliable service, helpful advice and products to help them get their projects done right."