By Anna Jauhola
For 70 years, Hallock has associated Gullander Hardware with the Hardware Hank franchise.
After five years of contemplation and set-backs due to COVID, the 128-year-old business is switching it up. No, they haven’t sold out – nor is Gullander’s going to be closed.
They are switching to Ace Hardware. Owner Guy Gustafson, fifth-generation to own and operate Gullander’s, said the switch was a difficult decision but a necessary one.
“We were actually one of the original (Hardware Hank) stores,” Gustafson said. “So it’s definitely bittersweet.”
Gullander’s will continue to offer the same products, but customers will start to see different brands and the Ace brand throughout the store. Gustafson said another draw to the switch was the ability to offer better pricing as well.
“The thing I’m most excited about is they are far ahead in technology,” he said about Ace. “In today’s world, a lot of people shop on their phones. So Ace will have an online store, you can select our store, buy online and you have it shipped to the store or shipped to you.”
Ace also has a rewards program for customers that Gustafson said will be beneficial.
“I think in today’s world we were missing the boat on some things,” he said.
The switch over to Ace products and signage will be a gradual one. While Gullander’s is still working with Hardware Hank on a limited scale, there will be some sales coming up to liquidate inventory to make room for new products.
Gustafson made it perfectly clear — he did not sell Gullander’s.
“We are not selling. I have not sold the store. I’ve gotten that a lot. I’m selling. Calm yourself,” he said with his own calm smile. Once customers and the community hear that, he said the feedback has been positive.
“People are excited about it, which makes me feel good. Makes me feel that this was a good choice,” Gustafson added.
Gullander’s will continue to offer the same types of products and services in the store, but brands will be changing. For example, they have long sold Valspar paint. Eventually, that will totally change over to Benjamin Moore. Also, they will continue to sell, maintain and repair bicycles.
The major changes will come in the spring, hopefully the end of March, when Ace Hardware employees come to Hallock and do a store remodel.
“There’ll be a month where it’s going to look pretty ugly in here. A little bit bare at times,” Gustafson said. “But it’ll be good when it’s over.”
Gullander’s will remain open throughout the remodel, asking customers for patience and understanding during that time. Gustafson is confident the changeover will give more choices to customers, different products and more brand names people want.
By Anna Jauhola