By Sue Botos
With Dave Wydick and other smiling faces greeting longtime customers at the door, a visitor to the Rocky River Ace Hardware store almost had to peek at the name on the storefront to make sure they were not at the former Ingersoll Hardware store.
The gleaming shelves and orderly stock left no doubt that this was a new store, but former Ingersoll employees, customers and even the new faces gave the Ace grand opening last week the air of a family reunion.
In fact, it was hard to find anyone who did not have some connection to Ingersoll’s, the Rocky River landmark that closed in January after more than 100 years of providing area contractors and do-it-yourselfers with hard-to-find items and personalized service. E&H Hardware Group, a locally owned enterprise based in Wooster, Ohio, purchased the business and reopened it as an Ace Hardware in the former Trading Times building on Detroit Road.
Manager Lisa Bird, who headed the Ingersoll’s store in Westlake for 18 years, promised that the tradition of personal service would continue. “We’ll keep cutting glass and repairing screens,” said Bird, adding that these services are not offered by big box home improvement stores. Craftsman tools and Benjamin Moore paint, which were found at Ingersoll’s, are also carried by the new Ace.
A number of old-time favorites can also be found on the shelves. One shopper pointed to the bars of Fels-Naptha soap. “My grandmother used that,” she exclaimed. Her companion noted the Grandma’s Lye Soap. “We won’t have to go to Amish country for that anymore,” she said.
Bird added that she has a “great staff” that includes a number of former Ingersoll customers.
One former customer-turned-employee was Sharon Trnavsky, who was serving up pieces of a hardware-themed sheet cake. “I love hardware stores, and this is close to home,” said Trnavsky, adding that she does a lot of renovation and home repair.
Bob Sichau, who was downsized from his job in industrial consulting, said he had always enjoyed engaging with the people during his 30-plus years as an Ingersoll’s customer. “I’ve become a great general tasker. This is what I love. It’s doing a 360 coming back here,” said Sichau, who added that he had also worked at Sea World of Ohio.
Retiring after 35 years at Alcoa, Chuck Berberich worked at the Westlake Ingersoll’s for 15 years. “I like being out with people and having some structure in my life,” he commented.
While customers and employees alike expressed their excitement over the new store, retired Lakewood High School music teacher Fritz Schaufele said that he would miss the dust-covered “unknown treasures” that could be found in the old store. Schaufele, who called himself a “living ambassador of the hardware industry,” recalled several stories from his 50 years as an Ingersoll’s customer, most of which centered around employees with the ability to dig up an obscure item with little description. Looking around at the orderly, dust-free shelves, he commented, “It’s never going to be the same, but this is a good step forward.”