A bigger, better Blackhawk

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November 1, 2021



by Michael J. Solender

Nearly two years in the making, Blackhawk Hardware’s store expansion and reimagination is formally complete. The transformation of the longtime Park Road Shopping Center stalwart increases in-store space by nearly a third, adding a 12,000-square-foot lower level to boost the total footprint to more than 42,000 square feet. The expansion also added a rear customer entrance by the garden center in the shopping center’s back lot.

“We cut a giant hole through the floor of an operational store in the middle of a pandemic,” says Blackhawk owner Andy Wilkerson, describing the expansion of the store that opened in 1977 and is part of the national ACE Hardware store network. Now, a wide stairway and glass elevator lead from the main floor to the lower level. New flooring; wide, well-marked aisles; and lower-profile shelving provide a light, open feel where customers can easily navigate the vast merchandise displays. 

Almost every department grew — Wilkerson says the store now carries around 100,000 different items for sale — with outdoor grills and barbecue supplies leading the way. “Grilling is our top selling category,” says Wilkerson, who notes Blackhawk is one the largest dealers in the nation of both Big Green Egg and Weber grills. 

A new toy department — think puzzles, blocks, wagons, Schleich figurines, and battery-free diversions that don’t blink, buzz or babble — will keep the kids engaged. There are also expanded pet offerings, including a self-serve dog wash. Wilkerson, whose pooches Nacho and Scout are often on hand to welcome customers, says the sudsy spa sees about 100 canine customers a week.

Wilkerson estimates the expansion, which began in fall 2019, cost nearly $2 million. 

“We sell time,” Wilkerson says, noting Blackhawk’s culture of engaging customer service offers an advantage over big-box stores. “People know they’re going to get answers to their questions, have access to expertise and not spend precious time searching for what they need when they come in. We don’t waste people’s time.” SP

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