Home Improvement Center celebrates 50 years and wins top ACE hardware store honor

Customers appreciation weekend, discounts ahead

ACE Home Improvement Center is celebrating 50 years in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In a time when big box stores and on line purchases have hurt many smaller businesses, the Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center has been able to beat the odds, and win a coveted award.

Owner Gary Simpson said he learned from his dad, the store's success is based largely on its customer service.  

Many workers, often experienced in their departments, greet shoppers throughout the various areas of the longtime store. 

Simpson says, "it's sort of a dying art these days. Sadly it is dying all around in retail."  But not at the Home Improvement Center.  "It is our strong foot forward and we capitalize on that as best as we can and customers appreciate it."

Price matching with other stores is also part of the service.  It also leads to continuous sales, many by return customers.

The Gutierrez street location is miles away from a big box hardware competitor in Goleta, giving this store a prime spot for Santa Barbara, Montecito and Carpinteria residents.

It's also ordering shipments of supplies to stock the shelves on a regular basis from the ACE Hardware warehouse.  So much, it is the number one ACE store in America.  "ACE came out here to tell us they appreciate that we are the number one purchaser of product from their warehouse of all the stores in the country. That's about 4400 stores," said Simpson,

He held up an Eastwing Gold Hammer Award for 50 years of "excellence and service."  On the wall an ACE hardware President's Achievement award hangs from President and CEO John Venhuizen.  The honor was presented in person when the top staff flew out from Chicago recently.

The store is not of new flashy construction.  It retains the unique older design,  aisles, and quirky paths between departments.   "People like that.  It has its old town charm," he says.   But Simpson says it's loaded.   Hardware and garden are the core and the lumber department is also busy each day.

Simpson says they have 65,000 items in the store and can find virtually any item a customer asks for on site, or in a short shipping timeline.

To celebrate the anniversary the store is rolling back prices Saturday and Sunday.  Items will be 10 to 25 percent off in every department.

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