The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Hardware store on Grand to reopen

By Ari Ofsevit

When Grand Avenue Hardware closed in February, a nine-decade era came to an end. Many feared that the space would be subdivided and the local business would make way for another gourmet coffee or cookie shop. For those who miss their local hardware store, however, the downtime will soon end, as the building on the corner of Grand and Cambridge will reopen as an Ace Hardware store in April.

“All we want to do is bring back a great hardware store to that end of Grand,” said Mike Frattallone, one of the owners of Frattallone Hardware, which is based in Arden Hills and has thirteen Ace-branded stores in the Twin Cities Metro. The family lives in Saint Paul.

“I live in that area and my family lives in that area,” Frattallone said of the east end of Grand Avenue. When his company heard that the store near Macalester was closing, they attempted to have a seamless transition, but “it went dark, which is not what we wanted it to do,” he said. The Frattallones have been negotiating with the owner of the building since Januray.

The Frattallones have been in the hardware business for 31 years, and the company is owned by Larry Frattallone and his two sons, Mike and Tom. They own another Frattallone’s hardware at Grand and Dale, which opened in 2003, but which had nothing to do with the defunct store closing, according to both Frattallone and the owner of the closed store, Jim Solin.

Frattallone said that the stores serve two distinct markets along Grand, and both were successful. Both Frattallone and Solin said that the store near Macalester had closed because of poor expansion plans when a new store which Solin opened in 2004 in Mendota Heights drained too much capital out of his business.

“They did a lot of things really right at that store, they had a great business there, and he didn’t have other stores to spread the hurt around,” Frattallone said.

The building, which is owned by the Smolik Family Trust, has not changed hands. Albert Smolik opened the store in 1915.

Frattallone said he hopes to replicate the feel of Solin’s store, and plans to cater to the needs of both the neighborhood and the college. With the building already empty, floors are being replaced and updated.

“Jim [Solin’s] store was a one-in-a-million store. It was never going to look like a perfectly beautiful Walgreens [and] that’s not what we’ll have there. We want to retain that feel of a hardware store; they’re going to be dirty after a while,” Frattallone said.

Solin and his wife Jeannine, who had logged a combined 75 years at the Grand Avenue Ace, surely gave the store character.

“It’s sad to see [the Solins] go, they were great people,” said Amanda Schultz, the executive director of the Grand Avenue Business Association.

Still, she is glad that the location will remain a hardware store, and that the Frattallones are a local family that has been supportive of the Association since they opened their first Grand store in 2003.

Students, many of whom have had to go much further for various items since February, were excited about the convenience. “I think it’s good,” Jed Noran ’06 said. “Ace was really convenient for me and a lot of other Mac students, and I used to go there a lot. Lately I’ve just been going to Target when I need stuff, so it would be really nice to have a local hardware store again.”

Frattallone did not say whether the new store would continue the 10 percent student discount.

He said he was unconcerned about the Menards which recently opened in St. Paul on nearby University Ave. His store and Menards are, in his opinion, apples and oranges. “If you want to buy a toilet you’ll have to go to Menards, but if you want it repaired you’ll probably want to come to us,” he said.

“We’re going to have everything for Macalester students, I am told we have to have a Red Bull machine,” a fixture of the old store, Frattallone added. He said he intends to carry a wide variety of furnishings for when students move into dorms in September, always a busy time for the store.

“When someone comes in it’ll be the same store with more stuff and cleaned-up floors but the same happy staff,” he said. He plans to hire any workers from the old store who wish to return, and said he hopes to employ some Macalester students as well.

Frattallone sees the return to the Ace brand as an asset. When the old store began its Ace affiliation in the 1930s, it was Ace number 72, while the new store will be in the 14,000s. Frattallone says that Ace is a strong alliance, allowing the store to buy and sell many goods at low prices.

The rental center will be smaller, as it was housed in a separate building which has been leased to Shish, a restaurant opening soon.

View Comments (9)
More to Discover

Comments (9)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • C

    Connor BallSep 11, 2019 at 9:04 am

    You are a very bright person!

  • N

    Nicola ColemanSep 10, 2019 at 3:51 am

    Throughout the grand pattern of things you receive an A for effort. Exactly where you misplaced me personally was in the facts. As it is said, details make or break the argument.. And that could not be more true right here. Having said that, allow me say to you just what exactly did do the job. The writing is actually extremely convincing and this is probably why I am making an effort to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Next, even though I can certainly see the jumps in reasoning you make, I am not necessarily convinced of just how you seem to connect the points which inturn produce the actual conclusion. For the moment I shall subscribe to your issue but trust in the future you actually connect the facts better.

  • P

    Paul DyerSep 8, 2019 at 6:10 am

    Its extremely brilliant YouTube video in terms of features, truly pleasant, its quality is in fact appreciable.