Tiffin Ace Hardware is getting a facelift and a major reorganization this winter as it celebrates its 50th year in business.
"We're making a lot of improvements and changes," General Manager Bryan Deats said. "You're going to be walking into a brand-new store."
The renovation during the next few months involves moving fixtures, expanding departments and product selection.
The store already has been brightened up with new paint and old lights are being replaced with new energy-efficient light fixtures that promise to increase the brightness by 30 to 40 percent.
While the store always has changed seasonally, he said it hasn't had a major renovation for 20 to 25 years.
Planning started last fall and implementation started in early January.
"We're optimistic that we'll have it completed in April," he said.
"One of our major objectives was to create more open floor space for our seasonal area," Deats said. "We're combining all the seasonal stuff to one side of the store."
The seasonal area then can change as the year progresses, while the other side of the store remains the same.
"It'll be over on the entry, rather than on the exiting side," Deats said. "Our outdoor living presentation is better. We won't have things so crammed in. It'll have a little bit more space than what it used to have."
After the Christmas trees were taken down, he said former seasonal areas were used for storage while everything else was rearranged.
The renovation has made winter a busier time than usual.
"Typically, this time of year is getting ready for spring," Deats said. "It's a little bit more hectic now for us than a normal transitional season."
When deciding on the changes last fall, Deats said store managers consulted with planning and layout experts from Ace, but most of the work is being done by store staff.
He said each department is being reviewed and updated as well.
"We're also using this as an opportunity to bring in new products," he said. "There are 200 new items in the housewares department alone.
"We spent a lot of time reviewing the current product mix," he said. "We're eliminating some slow-moving items and adding others. We'll probably have in 500 to 600 new items that we'll be working into the entire mix."
To make more room, Deats said the store is adding 16 more feet of space by removing the secondary aisle on one side. At the same time, shelves and fixtures are being moved to make aisles more than 4 feet wide.
"We've got enough elbow room so we don't have to compact everything in," he said.
The goal is to provide better customer service.
"We should be able to have all the right things all the time," he said.
For example, in the fastener area, the selection of nuts and bolts is increasing.
"The paint department is another area where we've allowed for more product," he said.
Some items are being discontinued and some will get more space.
"A hot category is compact fluorescents," he said. "Green is the way of the future for lighting for sure."
The store's 4-foot space for compact fluorescents is increasing to 8 feet.
"We don't live in 1990 anymore," Deats said. "We're trying to provide products that meet today's customer demands."
"We're doing this to provide an easier shopping experience for our customers, providing an ultimate shopping experience," he said.
Tiffin Hardware is planning a 50th anniversary celebration this summer or fall.
"This has been a family owned business from day one," he said. "In today's retail environment, you don't see many businesses be successful for 50 years plus.
"We're in business. We've been in business for 50 years. We plan on being in business for 50 more years."