Ace Hardware owners Eric Light and Stormee Light pose for a photo in front of the Simply Southern collection in their new outdoor living section and gift/greeting card section.

Ace Hardware expands to add Hallmark, Simply Southern and eventually, a coffee bar in new gift and outdoor living section

TENNERTON – Connoisseurs of caffeine, greeting cards and garden décor will be pleased to know that a large outdoor living section has been added – with more items on the way – to Buckhannon’s Ace Hardware in Skyline Plaza in Tennerton.

Situated between Kroger and Shoe Sensation, Ace Hardware has recently expanded and quietly opened a new outdoor living shopping area about a month ago in the former Gordman’s location.

Ace Hardware owners, the husband-and-wife team of Eric and Stormee Light, have also announced they will soon be adding a new coffee bar called Ace’s Coffee Corner inside the new section, which already features an array of Simply Southern apparel; Hallmark greeting cards and gifts; and yard and patio decorations from the Leanin’ Tree, Evergreen and Plow & Hearth merchandise lines; Love and Faith items are on the way, too.

Lawn and garden decor inside Ace Hardware’s newly expanded area.

It’s fair to say that Hallmark and Simply Southern are the main focus so far, though. The first thing you spot when you walk in the door is a huge ‘SIMPLY SOUTHERN’ sign, hovering over Ace Hardware’s large collection of the popular company’s women’s short and long-sleeved shirts, planners and journals, men’s hats and T-shirts, loungewear and more. They also have a sizeable selection of Simply Southern totes, drinkware, zip-up bags and lunch sacks.

“When you walk in the door, that’s what you see,” said Stormee Light, who hand-painted the letters. “I’m excited. I have so much fun coming in, especially when a new Simply Southern box arrives.”

In addition, Ace Hardware will soon be selling children’s clothing.

“We brought some of the clothing line in, which we’re still trying to build, but I just placed my fall and winter order, and we’re going to have children’s clothing, so I think people are going to be excited about that,” she said. “We’ve heard a lot of people asking about whether we would have children’s clothing.”

Among other sought-after items? Simply Southern’s cheetah and cow-patterned drinkware collections have been selling quickly, Stormee Light said, and the couple is still trying to get an idea of what customers are most interested in purchasing.

Simply Southern drinkware and totes are available in Ace Hardware’s expanded section.

“We have lounging clothing, a little bit of jewelry, totes, purses, pajama sets – it’s just a matter of seeing what people are looking for,” she said. “We’re in that transition period [between summer and autumn/winter], but I just placed a huge order for fall and winter, so we should have more stuff; we’re building. We’re still a work in progress.”

Stormee Light said Ace Hardware hopes to open up Ace’s Coffee Corner by the end of 2022 or the start of 2023, and she has already secured bistro tables and bar stools for it.

“This is going to be our coffee bar, so you can grab a cup of coffee, do some shopping – whatever,” she said. “We’re going to have some bistro tables and other items set up – Ace’s Coffee Corner is going to be our name. We haven’t officially announced anything, but that is what this area is going to be.”

“We have a lot of older retirees who come in,” Stormee Light added, “and so I said, ‘you know what would be great is if we had something like that (a coffee bar)” … because we have a lot of old-timers come in and it would be great if they could get a cup of coffee and sit down down and visit and do their shopping while their wives are doing their shopping at the grocery store,” Stormee Light said.

Food won’t be prepared in the coffee corner, but Stormee Light said it may eventually carry grab-and-go pastries.

Across from the coffee bar is a large area featuring two aisles of Hallmark greeting cards. When the couple was contemplating how big the greeting card area would be, they both realized they missed shopping in Diane’s Hallmark, so they thought, “Go big or go home.” Later this year, the business aims to have some signature Hallmark ornaments for sale, although the assortment will be more limited. In 2023, Stormee Light hopes they can stock the entire Hallmark ornament collection.

“Right now, we’re just cards, but we’re hoping to get in some stuff like the gifts and some of the ornaments. We’re going to grow this section but right now, it’s just in the beginning – in the growing stages,” she said.

Stormee Light likes to think of the new expansion as a “one-stop shop” for folks since the hardware store is already the only full-service UPS location in the county.

“We’re not trying to be a Stone Tower or a Daily Grind; we just want to have something special for our customers when they come in, so you have the coffee bar, you can do your shopping, you can buy your card and your wrapping paper, and then you can mail it. You can do whatever you need to do … it’s a one-stop shop,” she said. “It’s nice to have something for the people on the southern end of the county because they have to drive pretty far to get things.”

From the beginning, Eric Light said Ace Hardware’s goal is to carry specialty merchandise residents can’t find anywhere else in Upshur County.

“The idea is to have items that we don’t already have in this area – like Hallmark store – and offer those,” he said.

Ace Hardware, located at 116 Skyline Plaza Drive, is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The expanded area will offer merchandise from Evergreen, Plow & Hearth and Leanin’ Tree.

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