Nuts and bolts, Big Green Eggs, a self-service dog wash, and a giant dinosaur await shoppers at Charlotte’s quirkiest — and coolest — independent hardware store.
by Michael J. Solender
Nearly two years in the making, Blackhawk Hardware’s store expansion and reimagination formally celebrates its completion as the longtime Park Road Shopping Center stalwart and beloved independent hardware retailer hosts a family-focused “Expansion Extravaganza” on Saturday, September 18.
Blackhawk’s transformation is nothing short of stunning as it has increased 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 adds a rear customer entrance by the expanded 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, opened in 1977, and part of the national ACE Hardware store network.
Now, a wide stairway and glass elevator at the rear of the main floor lead to the lower level. New flooring; wide, well-marked aisles; and lower-profile shelving yield unobstructed site lines and provide a light, open feel where customers can easily navigate the well-marked departments and vast merchandise displays.
Most every department offers expanded selections, with outdoor grills and BBQ 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.
Decorative hardware and housewares are not far behind, as shoppers find a dizzying array of items from Lodge cast-iron pans, kitchen, and bath items, drawer pulls and door handles, and lighting fixtures. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry tools and supplies are also in abundance. Wilkerson says the expanded store carries around 100,000 different items for sale.
A new toy department — think puzzles, blocks, wagons, Schleich figurines, and guilt-free delights without batteries — will keep the kids engaged. Pet lovers will rejoice at an expanded department with extensive offerings for dogs, cats, birds, and other homebound critters – there’s even 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 estimated the expansion, which began in fall 2019, cost nearly $2 million. He notes Blackhawk’s culture with engaging customer service offers a huge advantage over big-box stores. “We sell time,” Wilkerson says. “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
Expansion Extravaganza: Saturday, September 18, from 11 a.m. — 6 p.m. Expect live music and drum show, an inflatable slide, Big Green Egg grill demos, circus performances (including a chainsaw juggler act!), face painting, balloon twisting, giveaways, and discounts at this family friendly event. Blackhawk Hardware, Park Road Shopping Center, 4225 Park Road. For more information: 704-525-2682, blackhawkhardware.com/.