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Posted on Tue. Jun. 17, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

West State Do It Best to move to free-standing Wells Street store

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A former discount grocery store on North Wells Street will be home to a hardware store again this fall.

Connolly's Do It Best Hardware Store, currently in West State Plaza, is moving into1642 N. Wells St., which is now under renovation. The location most recently served as home to Wells Street Discount Grocery. Before that opened in late 2002 it housed Wells Street Hardware since at least 1950.

“We expect to be open Nov. 1,” said Bill Marker, the West State Do It Best store manager.

Plans for an official grand opening are still being developed.

"We still have a whole summer to plan something," he said.

The current West State space is leased and the move is being made in favor of ownership.

“We don't want to pay rent or lease anymore. We bought that building (on Wells Street), so we will actually own it,” he said.

The longtime, local business should feel welcome when it gets to its new digs.

“We are excited to have that building, which used to be the Wells Street Hardware, being reused for a good, positive influence in the neighborhood," said Judi Wire, president of the Wells Corridor Business Association.

In addition to serving the Wells Street area neighborhoods it is expected to serve downtown neighborhoods, as well, she said.

The 9,000-square-foot renovation is expected to be completed in October. It includes a 3,000-square-foot addition to the existing structure, which has been gutted, said John Schenkel, co-owner of Shawnee Construction and Engineering, 7701 Opportunity Drive.

The new location will have modern, cost-efficient LED lighting to save energy and money.

“LED lighting is the big thing. The lights are on 12 to 14 hours a day,” Marker said.

“LED lighting is the most efficient light you can buy today,” Schenkel said.

Other components of the renovation include:

Installing new electrical service

Reinsulating the roof and walls to meet current building and energy codes

New heating and air conditioning units for a rooftop installation

“The only thing we are keeping, basically, is the roof and the exterior walls of the building,” Schenkel said.

Moving to a new location also means the hardware store will no longer share parking spaces with neighboring stores, including the Pizza Hut, which is undergoing rebuilding and Kroger.

“The parking lot will be our own, and I think the parking will be a little better now,” Marker said.

A house to the north of the site has been razed and the current parking lot is being expanded to accommodate 19 vehicles, Schenkel said.

Customers who don't drive to the hardware store have not been forgotten.

"Additionally, we have a bus stop right in front of the store plus a bike rack," Marker said.

Aside from a change in the location of the store, customers should not expect to see many differences, Marker said.

However, customers may see a slight difference in the number of selections available for various products.

“The new space is actually going to be a little smaller. So we might not have five possible selections (for a particular product) on the shelf; we might only have three,” he said.

Services such as renting equipment for various projects is expected to remain the same.

“We are still going to have the good (customer) service we have always provided,” Marker said.

When work is completed on the Wells Street structure, much of the merchandise from the West State location is expected to be moved to the new location. Then the current building is expected to close for about a week while merchandise from other Connolly hardware stores throughout the city is brought to the West State location.

“We are going to take all the stuff out of all the stores that doesn't sell. Maybe some stuff that was ordered and never picked up. Stuff that we have that we just want to get rid of. It could be some of the older rental equipment. It could be a lot of things…and we are going to have a sale,” Marker said.

Anything remaining after the sale is expected to be auctioned, he said.

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