New True Value store to open Tuesday with more choices and the same hometown service
By Matt Kane
DELANO, MN Frannie, the area’s favorite hardware store cat, has a new home.
The former furry resident of the True Value hardware store in downtown Delano now lives in Watertown, but, she is still a part of the True Value family. Frannie moved into the home of Jay Wilcox, the manager of the True Value store in Watertown.
Frannie was the first of the Delano True Value residents to relocate from the downtown store. On Tuesday, the 14 human employees will also move out of the Bridge Avenue location, but, unlike Frannie, the humans aren’t skipping town. Instead, they are moving on up to the east side of Delano into the newly constructed 13,000-square-foot True Value destination store just west of Coborn’s.
All winter, construction crews and, more recently, a bright, neon sign, has drawn the attention of Hwy. 12 motorists to the new facility, which also houses four separate retail rental spaces. The ground-breaking ceremony took place in August, and the doors will officially open for business Tuesday, March 24 with a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m.
Local businesses and individual are invited to tour the store, refreshments will be served, and products will be specially priced throughout the store.
“It’s exciting. We have more than doubled our product line, we have a rental section now, we’ve expanded our paint department, plus we’ve added another line of paint,” said manager Mike Beise, who is in his seventh year with the Delano hardware store. “I think we will be better able to serve the community. And that’s the fun part of the job.”
When walking through the automatic sliding doors of the new True Value store for the first time, the first thing customers will notice is the size of the store. When it comes to what Delano needs, Lynn Smith, a True Value retail consultant out of Owatonna, said size really matters.
“In moving from downtown, we are probably doubling the individual items,” said Smith, who was overseeing workers at the new store Thursday. “They probably had 18,000 items downtown. That was a tight, extremely well-run store. Now, this one, with a footprint the size that it is, we should be able to offer close to 25,000 products.”
For store owner Chris Johnson, that size, and, of course, location, mattered most in deciding to build a bigger store.
“For us, the big thing is having a better facility. It’s bigger,” said Johnson, who also owns True Value stores in Watertown, Navarre, and Shoreview. “At the old building, we had a 3-foot receiving door. Here, we have a garage door, and we can actually move in pallets of stuff. I think we are going to be able to have a better presentation, and a new look in a bigger store.”
The downtown store had about 6,000 feet of floor space. Johnson said the new location and its 13,000 square feet will better serve everybody.
“Space was an issue, and one of the biggest things is traffic.” Johnson explained. “There is no traffic downtown, and retail is driven on traffic. Being on the highway, where we have some visibility, will make a big difference, and just having a bigger store and a modern facility will help a lot.”
Beise, a Delano resident, admits he wasn’t totally on board with moving out of the downtown location, but now realizes the move makes sense.
“Downtown is becoming more professional and less retail. There are a lot of lawyers and dentists, chiropractors, restaurants it’s more upscale,” Beise said from the new store, where dozens of employees, electricians, and contractors were putting some finishing touches on the store. “Out here on the highway, not only are we more visible, we are easier to get to.
“After we started to set this up, and looking at the product and what we have to offer it’s really super.”
Beise wasn’t the only longtime employee to hesitate on the thought of leaving the downtown building. His wife, Vicki Beise, who specializes in paint and gardening, shared the feeling.
“I miss downtown. It had a hometown feel. I hope we can retain that here,” she said Thursday, while scanning products into the system at the new location. “And I will miss Frannie. Everybody asks about Frannie.”
The person probably most sad to see True Value move out of the downtown location is the building’s owner, Jerome Andres, who had been associated with a hardware store at 129 Bridge Ave. in downtown Delano for almost five decades.
Andres’ father, Ed Andres opened a Coast-to-Coast Hardware at the downtown location in 1957. Jerome Andres took over the store in 1980, and the younger Andres sold the store, which had already been bought out by True Value, to Johnson in 2004.
In its beginning, the downtown hardware business was housed in just one store, but, in the mid-1970s the Andres expanded east into what was once The Rainbow Bar, and, in 1979, it expanded to the west into the space that was once Jack’s Food Guild.
Andres didn’t have much to say about the move, but he did wish Johnson and his staff luck.
“We are sad to see it leave downtown,” Andres said. “We wish them luck in the new building. I guess I can understand their moving.”
The “hometown feel” Vicki Beise plans on transferring from the downtown building to the Hwy. 12 building is what everybody is hoping for.
The fact that all True Values are independently-owned as a co-op, and not franchised, means the owner, in Delano’s case, Johnson, who lives in Orono, can make changes to the store as he wishes, and order products according to his consumers’ needs.
The new Delano store is called a Destination True Value, and is the second such store in Minnesota. The other opened in Perham six months ago. A Destination True Value is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and it caters to the customers in its community.
So, why shop at True Value in Delano instead of Menards, Lowe’s, or Home Depot? Why not?
“We will become the primary destination for a home project. ‘We’ve got what people’ need is the idea,” Johnson said.
Mike Beise said the combination of quality service and good product is a reason to stay local.
“Hopefully, we will give them better service and competitive prices. If we don’t have it in stock, we can always order it. We have a rental department, and we service. Between the different stores, we have screen repair here, window repair here, we re-key locks here,” Beise said. “We’ve been training our employees . . . so everybody is more knowledgeable about the product lines and how to use them. If a customer comes in and has a question, or has no clue what to do, we should be able to help him.”
Beise also pointed out that the new True Value store will have a lot more rental products, including canopies for parties, a 100-cup coffee pot, small construction equipment, scaffolding, wallpaper steamers, jackhammers, power tools, and even a live trap.
As of Thursday, shelves were still being stocked, displays were still being set up, and construction dust was still being wiped from the fixtures, but, come Tuesday at 11 a.m., when the ribbon is cut and the doors slide open, customers will be welcomed into the new True Value store by old friends, like Mike and Vicki Beise,
No, Frannie, the cat, won’t be there, but during his tour of the store, this reporter did notice a True Value favorite sitting back in the stock room a popcorn machine.
Is there anything more pleasurable than picking out a ball-peen hammer while munching on a bag of fresh popcorn?