Grass Valley hardware store joins Ace co-op | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley hardware store joins Ace co-op

After more than 75 years in business, B&C Home and Garden Center is making some big changes.

The family-owned hardware store is changing affiliations to Ace Hardware after having been a member of the True Value co-op since the 1970s.

But the partners — Greg and Gary Fowler and Tom, Kim and Jim Janousek — stress that the store remains under their ownership and with all the same staff.

"The same owners, the same stuff, the same place, but it's now Ace," said Greg Fowler.

The switch to the Ace brand becomes effective today, but the changeover will take several months, B&C's owners said. A grand re-opening celebration is being planned in the spring — possibly the beginning of April — once all the dust has settled from the conversion to Ace and store remodel.

Long local history

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B&C has been at the same location for 77 years and counting after Leland and Faye Fowler purchased 14 acres of meadow between Grass Valley and Nevada City in 1940 to build a sawmill, planing mill and retail lumber yard (the Fowler family first began a logging business in Nevada County in 1865). That 14 acres is now the site of Fowler Center.

The sawmill was closed in 1959 as the family's focus shifted more to the retail operation. A fire destroyed the original store and sheds in 1967, and they were replaced by an 8,000-square-foot steel building.

Charles and his brother Don formed a partnership after their father's death in 1963 and spent the next 33 years building the business.

In 1997, Charles and Don Fowler sold the business to Don's sons, Greg and Gary, and Charles' daughter and son-in-law, Kim and Tom Janousek. Two years ago, Tom sold a portion of his shares to Jim Janousek.

"We want our customers to know it's the same business — we didn't sell out," said Tom Janousek.

True Value had been a good partner to the Grass Valley business for decades, Greg Fowler said. But once A to Z Supply ended its affiliation with Ace Hardware, that opened up a new opportunity for B&C.

"They were looking for a larger operation in the region," he said. "Ace Hardware is second to none in the industry."

The hardware store has re-branded itself as B&C Ace Home and Garden Center and is now part of a co-op of more than 4,850 locally owned and independently operated Ace stores across the world, they said. Ace Hardware rewards cards will be valid at the store.

'Better selection, service, prices'

Ace will allow B&C to offer a better selection, better service and better prices, Jim Janousek said.

There will be some disruption in the next few months, Greg Fowler said.

Some inventory will be changing as discontinued stock gets removed from shelves, he explained, adding, "We will have a massive closeout sale starting in January."

The store will be bringing in several new product lines.

"The Craftsman line is one thing we're very excited about," Greg said. "Toro (which sells lawnmowers and landscape equipment) is also a brand-new line for us."

Down the road, B&C hopes to stock Yeti coolers, Traeger grills and smokers and the Green Egg ceramic grill line.

B&C will lose the True Value paint line, which is very popular, but the owners say they are replacing that with products of equal value — Clark+Kensington paint and primer, Valspar Optimus and Valspar Aspire.

The goal is to be at full speed by the spring season, Greg said.

"We're excited and our employees are excited as well," he said. "They are a big part of the switchover — they're all in."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lkellar@theunion.com.

Know & Go

What: B&C Home & Garden Center

Where: 2032 Nevada City Highway, Grass Valley

Hours: 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

For info: Call 530-273-6105 or go online at http://www.bandcgrassvalley.com