Smith’s ACE Hardware is pleased to be celebrating its 70th anniversary. George Mozer founded Yardville Supply on Yardville-Groveville Road in Hamilton. Today there are five locations in Yardville, Mercerville, Princeton, Chatham, and Newtown, PA.
George Smith, president of Smith’s ACE Hardware and one of the owners and George Mozer’s grandson, is mostly at the 18,000-square-foot store located in the Princeton Shopping Center. The fourth generation is now working in the family business. Smith’s ACE Hardware offers employee benefits, including a 401K account, personal days, and vacation days. There are more than 100 employees between the five locations.
There are 5,000 ACE Hardware stores worldwide in the co-op, all stores being privately owned. “We own shares in the stock. We receive a dividend check at the end of the year. What people like about us is they are dealing with a local owner and a national brand known for customer service,” explains Smith. ACE Hardware Stores received the JD Power and Associates award for best customer service the past 10 years. “We offer customers what they need when they need it.”
Smith cites their experience after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as a prime example of their level of high customer service. As with much of the area, the Princeton store was without electricity. They continued to receive their normal twice-a-week deliveries. On the other days they received additional shipments from Albany, New York. Each morning they unloaded the truck and opened for business at 9 a.m.
“We took people around the store with flashlights,” explained Smith. They sold emergency supplies such as batteries, gas cans, and generators, and kept their store stocked. “It is what we are known for. We are in the top 50 of ACE Hardware’s 5,000 stores.”
As for looking for an additional location, Smith says ACE Hardware calls it the “economy of scale. We already have a controller and a credit manager; all we need is a store manager and sales people. All of our bills get paid out of Yardville. The percent of overhead being less with more stores. We buy everything in bulk — concrete mixes, peat moss, Scott’s lawn products, and we bring it to Yardville and split it up. If ACE is out of something, we have it because we warehouse it and have bought in volume.”
Now is the time to purchase fall fertilizers, seeds, grass seed, rakes, leaf blowers, and window insulation, which is why they currently have these items on the shelves at Smith’s ACE Hardware. “We bring in what people need when they need it,” explains Smith. “Because of the drought a lot of people are putting down grass seed and fertilizer now and they need hoses. They aren’t buying Christmas stuff in October. We carry hoses and nozzles year-round. We wait until after Halloween before we set up for Christmas. We run a little closer to what people need here. We are in the need business for when people actually need it.
“The people on the sales floor know the products because they deal with it every day. We have great service and great prices. We are a full-service store. We cut glass and cut keys. We have a knife sharpener and have soda stream refills of CO2.”
At 3,000 square feet, the housewares department in the Princeton store is the largest of the Smith’s ACE Hardware locations. We also have an extensive fine arts department. “We have unique items. It is a pretty impressive store,” adds Smith. “We have everything you would find in a hardware store, including Craftsman tools, Benjamin Moore paints, electrical and plumbing supplies, lawn and garden materials, and outdoor grills.” They have the largest selection of Weber grills in the area.
As we near winter, Smith emphasizes “at the beginning of the season we buy 50 truckloads of salt. We never run out of salt at our Yardville warehouse. When everyone else is out of shovels and salt, they send their customers to us.”
Smith’s ACE Hardware – Princeton, Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton. 609-430-4300. http://acesmithshardware.com/smiths-ace-hardware-princeton-nj. Seasonal Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.