Ace Hardware is opening in the Old National Marketplace shopping center next month and it’s a family affair. Warren Pegram and his stepson Charlston Austin, the store’s proprietors, invited the community into the 12,600 square-foot space on Friday to share their vision and values.
The event was held in partnership with the South Fulton Chamber and attended by city officials and members of the Old National Merchants Association. A representative from Inland Property Management said that the hardware store will complement the current retail lineup, and assist in the company’s strategic plan to diversity the shopping center’s offerings.
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The opening of Ace Hardware comes at a time when the City of South Fulton is encouraging small business ownership as part of its economic development strategic plan. The city just celebrated National Entrepreneurship Week and hosted a seminar for aspiring franchisees in the area.
Pegram said that the Ace Hardware franchise offers a level of flexibility that’s not available with other stores. He said that franchisees are able to customize their inventory to meet the needs of the community. One area that they plan to specialize in is party rental equipment, including inflatables, commercial grade snow cone and popcorn machines and more.
Pegram brings a human resources background to the franchise. He says it’s important to him that all of the store’s employees offer a high level of customer service.
“It’s very important that you feel the love from the moment you walk in and that you have an awesome shopping experience,” he said. “Anyone that wants to come work with us, as long as you love people, we welcome you to be apart of our team.”
Austin brings the retail background to the venture. As a former retail account executive, he spent over a decade working for a major telecommunications brand managing multiple stores. He said connecting with the community has given him the confidence that his store will be successful. He says it’s a critical step for anyone that wants to open a business or sell a product.
“If you have a product that you believe is viable, connect with the community,” he said. “They will help you launch the product. The love and support that we have gotten is awesome. In a community that’s trying to rebuild and grow more businesses like South Fulton, networking key.”
One of the reasons that the community is excited for the arrival of the new store is that there’s been a void in the area since the closing of a previous Ace location as well as a nearby Lowes. Residents now won’t have to travel outside of their neighborhood for a home improvement specialty store.
“I’m excited that we were able to bring the kind of business that people have been asking for,” said Councilman Khalid. “The fact that the owners are from the community really speaks to what can happen when we empower people in our community towards ownership.”
Councilman Khalid also said that he hopes that the owners will help to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, and that more development is to come.
“There’s a generation of people who are moving away from Old National, the sons and daughters of the homeowners here, because we don’t have the kind of live-work-play community that millennials and Generation Z want to live in,” he said. “So we’re going to be working on building the Old National of the future.”
In addition to Ace Hardware, new additions to Old National Marketplace include Verizon Wireless and CollabSouth, which will house South Fulton’s Main Street program, a revitalization initiative, as well as the city’s tourism manager. It will also serve as a coworking space and a police mini-precinct. All are signs of more good things to come.
Ace Hardware of South Fulton is located at 6385 Old National Highway, Suite 120. The community is invited to attend the store’s soft open on April 21, grand opening on June 5 and additional grand opening festivities on June 6.
Photo: Warren Pegram and his stepson Charlston Austin will open Ace Hardware of South Fulton next month. (Credit: Ace Hardware of South Fulton)