The latest addition to Midtown Row opened its doors earlier this month as Ace Peninsula Hardware made the move from its old location the Williamsburg Shopping Center to a new storefront next to organic grocery store Earth Fare.
The store opened at 210 Monticello Ave. in the Monticello Shopping Center on Nov. 6, Ace Peninsula Hardware president Terry Deaver said, and will hold a grand re-opening ceremony and ribbon cutting on Dec. 1.
Although Ace Hardware opened for business at the new storefront two weeks ago, Deaver said that certain items are still making the transition from the old store. The new store is around 17,000 square feet, and is staffed by approximately 30 employees.
“When we first opened up on that Tuesday, we weren’t really ready, but it got to a point where we had nothing to sell at the old store and we had a whole lot more to sell at the new store,” he said. “That first week or so, we still were moving a lot so it was really hard to tell (that we were open), but now it’s been a couple of weeks.”
Improvements at the new store include new fixtures and a larger housewares department with room for Christmas decorations. The biggest reason for the move, however, was the improved visibility from Monticello Avenue. Previously, Ace Hardware was tucked away behind Food Lion in the Williamsburg Shopping Center, Deaver said, which made it difficult to attract new customers.
Last September, the city’s Economic Development Authority authorized a no-net-loss tax incentive for Peninsula Ace Hardware that will return a portion of the taxes that the store pays to the city for a period of five years or up to $50,000, whichever comes first.
Michele Mixner DeWitt, the city’s economic development director, said the EDA approved the tax incentive on the basis of the increased sales and resulting tax revenue that Ace Hardware is expected to generate by moving to a more visible storefront.
Deaver said that although early indicators are positive, it’s still too early to tell if the increased visibility has helped the business.
“I’m seeing a little bit of an increase in terms of customer count and the number of transactions have increased, but it’s really hard to tell at this point,” he said. “By the time we have our grand re-opening, I think that I’ll be able to tell a big difference.”
A grand re-opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for 7:20 a.m. Dec. 1. The store is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit acepeninsulahardware.com.
While the area’s larger retailers gear up for Black Friday, local independent stores expect to see business pick up on Nov. 24 for Small Business Saturday.
The Williamsburg Premium Outlets will kick off the busy shopping weekend with adjusted hours and free gifts for the first 500 customers in line Thursday.
The outlets will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and will stay open until 2 a.m. Friday. Four hours later, stores will re-open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday and stay open until 10 p.m. The outlets will be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
The first 500 shoppers to visit the management office Thursday, which is located between Harry & David and Levis, will get special holiday-themed swag bags, according to a news release. The gift bags will include treats and discounts from outlet retailers, and a select number of bags will include golden ticket vouchers with prizes like a $25 gift card, according to the release.
For more information, visit premiumoutlets.com/outlet/williamsburg or call 757-565-0702.
The next day, dubbed Small Business Saturday, is an annual nation-wide event that encourages shoppers to support local businesses.
The initiative was started by American Express in 2010 while in the midst of the Great Recession, according to the company’s website, with the goal of encouraging consumers to celebrate and support the small businesses in their communities. Over the course of the past eight years, American Express reports that U.S. consumers have spent an estimated $85 billion at independent restaurants and retailers.
More than 100 local retailers and restaurants will participate this year, according to the small business store locator on the American Express website.
Jennifer Raines, owner of local art shops Quirks Handcrafted Goods & Unique Gifts and The Sideshow, said she expects to see an increase in traffic at her stores Friday and Saturday. Despite this, however, she said she’s seen excitement around Small Business Saturday start to decline since she first took part in the annual initiative in 2010.
“Small Business Saturday is always busy for us,” she said. “It’s a better day than usual, but it’s not crazy like it used to be.”
She said that this is because American Express no longer offers statement credits and bonus points to card holders for shopping at local businesses, something the company offered when it first launched the initiative.
Ashley Jones, manager of Ocean Palm clothing store on West Duke of Gloucester Street, said the store will offer a free necklace or gift box for every $200 that customers spend on Saturday.
“I’m sure that it’ll help to bring people out,” she said.
For a full list of participating local retailers, visit amex.co/2qUePIc.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.