Big John readies for return to hardware market
April 5, 2014
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — "Big" John Lindsey tried his hand at being a computer consultant and considered a few other second career options after he had to shut down his longtime lumber and hardware business on Devereux Road nearly three years ago.
"That was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do," said Lindsey, who had owned and operated Big John's Building and Home Center, including the local Ace Hardware affiliate, in the former 84 Lumber space, since 1988.
When he got word that his lease was ending and the building owner wanted to sell, he tried to buy the property.
"The economy just wouldn't support it," Lindsey said.
“We are excited as can be to have him back as part of the Ace family. John ran an exceptional store for many years, and it was a real loss when he had to close. And we feel Glenwood is a great market to be in.”
Project manager for Ace
He also looked at relocating the business, including taking a hard look at the vacant car dealership space on South Glen Avenue where, just a few short years later, he is about to re-enter the local retail market with his new Big John's Ace Hardware store.
"At that time, though, with my financial situation and the economy what it was, it just wasn't possible," he said from his new office in the 12,000-square-foot steel-frame metal building that is being converted into Glenwood Springs' new "hometown hardware store," in the words of the 6-foot-7 Lindsey.
It took a year living in Arizona with his wife, Meg, and their daughter, McKenna, to get the plan together. He even considered changing his focus to sporting goods rather than hardware, and talked to some local investors about that prospect.
But John, the son of hardware man and retired longtime Cedaredge Lumber owner Art Lindsey, said he ultimately decided that hardware was in his blood.
The other thing he knew for sure, especially after that short stint in the computer biz, was that he's "meant to be a merchant."
A Colorado native, Lindsey managed his father's store in the mountain town of Cedaredge for four years before opening his own store in Glenwood Springs at age 30.
So, he began working in earnest with longtime Glenwood Springs businessman Wayne Rudd, owner of the former Ford, Chevrolet and Subaru dealership and automobile service center building on South Glen, to open the new hardware store there.
"I like the fact that it's an old garage, I think it really adds to the character of a hardware store," Lindsey said of the new digs, which has about 2,800 square feet more floor space than the previous location, not including the lumber yard.
The new store will not have lumber or building materials, but will have full hardware and fastener, electrical, plumbing, tools, auto accessories, paint, lawn and garden and cleaning/houseware sections.
Local construction contractor Steve Davis of Epic Notions has been in charge of the extensive building remodel project.
"It's a great example of recycling an old building and using it for something else," Davis said.
The original section of the building was erected in 1960 and served as several different auto dealerships for several years. Four separate additions were added over the years, Davis said.
Davis is the former owner of Summit Canyon Mountaineering in Glenwood Springs, and was involved with the remodel of the old Bullock's building that now houses Summit Canyon, as well as the former Woolworth's building in downtown Grand Junction that houses the Summit Canyon store there.
The Big John's remodel involved removing all the single-pane plate glass around what was the showroom and office area, most recently for the Subaru dealership. The old garage bay doors remain inside the new wall construction in the main part of the store.
Davis worked with Clean Energy Economy for the Region to install new energy-efficient heating and lighting systems. Required fire sprinkler systems were also installed.
Ace is the place
Lindsey said the neighborhood hardware store, with its emphasis on personal customer service, is a niche that needed to be re-filled in Glenwood Springs.
"It's just nice for people to be able to park by the front door and walk into a store that's well-stocked," he said. "It's just easier to shop and find what you need, and you can't beat the customer service of a place like this."
The south Glenwood location right on Highway 82 will also be more convenient than the former, somewhat out-of-the-way Big John's Building and Home Center, Lindsey said.
Ace officials were also eager to see Big John back in the market, and are happy he chose to stick with Ace.
"We really missed having John these past few years," said Gary Johnson, project manager for Ace, who has been in and out of the new store in recent weeks helping with the final interior set-up.
"We are excited as can be to have him back as part of the Ace family," Johnson said. "John ran an exceptional store for many years, and it was a real loss when he had to close. And we feel Glenwood is a great market to be in."
The new Ace store will add to the chain's existing presence in Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen.
Lindsey said he plans to open with a staff of 12, and will be open seven days a week. At his height at the former store, he employed 42 people.
An April 29 opening is planned, with May 3 and 4 being the first big weekend in business. A formal grand opening celebration will take place later in the summer, he said.