Ace Hardware in Newport seeing good times

PHOTOS BY SHELBY WOLFE/The Newport News-Times | Photo 1: Ray Molloy, an ACE Hardware employee, carries a ladder out to a customer’s car. Photo 2: Ray Molloy, an ACE Hardware employee, helps out customer David Campos, of Newport.

NEWPORT –– Set against a backdrop of fishing hooks, electrical equipment and hardware, Ray Malloy talked about some of the funny moments he’s had in the time he’s worked at Newport Ace Hardware and Outdoor.

“A lot of times they’re really vague,” he said of some customers who come to him. “They’ll say ‘I have this part on my stove.’ First I try to figure out what they’re talking about and if I can find them the part.”

Malloy is one of 10 full-time employees at Newport Ace Hardware and Outdoor, which opened last month on Highway 101. So far, the store is doing well, and the store’s leadership is both learning what customers want to buy in the store and trying to keep up with demand.

“That’s the interesting thing about what we do, learning what our customers are coming in for,” said Bob Leis, manager at Newport Ace Hardware and Outdoor. “We’re listening to what the customers are asking for.”

One of the biggest challenges in the first month of opening was trying to keep certain products in stock--things like wood stoves, RV toilet chemicals, humidifiers and edgers--and Leis started doubling shipments to the store.

“Now, instead of getting one truck a week, we’re getting two trucks a week,” Leis said. “That’s going to help our special order turnaround time significantly.”

The increase will bump up the in-stock status quite a bit, too, Leis said.

“That should start here in about two weeks is what the goal is,” he said.

Everything from heaters to de-humidifiers to toilet seats to blowers have been flying off the shelves.

“It’s been crazy,” Leis said.

“That’s been a surprise to me, just how much housewares are selling,” he said. “I didn’t anticipate that stuff would be selling so well.”

Leis noticed a good number of customers coming to Ace for are lawn and garden supplies, but the Newport location isn’t going to have enough of those supplies, Leis said, until there’s an outdoor area for the store.

“I have a fence company designing an eight-foot-tall, black, wrought-iron fence, a really nice one,” Leis said. “I want it to be nice-looking, but it’s taking about eight weeks to build it, so it’s supposed to be installed in the next couple weeks.”

With an outdoor supplies area in the works, Ace customers in Newport can expect a larger inventory of lawn and garden products in the coming months.

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