Opening of the Ace Hardware store in the Port Royal SC shopping center

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Ace Hardware is now open for business off Ribaut Road in Port Royal.

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A new Ace Hardware, one of the nation’s leading hardware brands, has opened in a Port Royal mall in need of “TLC” and has more than just home improvement products on its shelves.

Port Royal Mayor Joe DeVito believes the store will be a ‘catalyst’ for further changes to the mall along Ribaut Road.

“The city is absolutely thrilled,” DeVito said, “to have Ace Hardware here in Port Royal.”

When the doors opened Monday, Labor Day, DeVito was among the first customers.

Port Royal ace material joins the Piggly Wiggly, West Marine Supply Store, Frank’s Spirits and Wine and Roses Express in the Royal Oaks Shopping Centre.

Ace Hardware, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world, with more than 5,600 locally owned and operated hardware stores in 70 countries.

The Port Royal store at 1347 Ribaut Road is owned by Gregg Brunson of Beaufort.

The main attraction of the Port Royal location, Brunson told the Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet, was its proximity to the population center of Beaufort and Port Royal.

“If you look at Beaufort and Port Royal from the aerial view, it’s the largest population center along that stretch,” Brunson said. “Also, it was an underserved area from a material point of view, because people had to drive so far.”

The mall site, Brunson said, needed “a little TLC” but had big potential.

“And I knew the town of Port Royal would be supportive of improving the look of this mall,” Brunson said. “It’s a more welcoming gateway to the town of Port Royal than what was there now.”

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Ace Hardware is now open for business off Ribaut Road in Port Royal. ace material

Brunson and his business partner own Brunson Construction Co., an Ace Hardware in Hampton and now the Port Royal Ace Hardware.

To make way for the Port Royal Ace store, a former satellite bank building was demolished. A tanning salon and liquor store were also to be moved.

The tanning salon has moved. And Brunson and his business partner bought the liquor store, reopening a new store called Frank’s Spirits and Wine. The Business Partners also own a Frank’s Spirits and Wine on Boundary Street in Beaufort.

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Owner Gregg Brunson says the new Ace Hardware in Port Royal employs 20 people. Port Royal Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware stores are known to be independently owned and operated.

A 2015 article in Forbes magazine said the success of the Ace brand is built on entrepreneurs who know local markets, inventory tailored to a neighborhood’s demographics, and superior customer service.

Brunson and his partner showed their knowledge of the Lowcountry both in the location they chose for the store and in the merchandise they sell.

Besides hardware, Port Royal Ace Hardware sells sporting goods, including hunting and fishing gear.

“I had so many requests for this,” Brunson said of sporting goods, “we decided to add it.”

Lowe’s Home Improvement in Beaufort is just 1 mile away. But Brunson knew that the unusual geography of Beaufort and Port Royal, divided by water and marshes, actually made it a 10-15 minute drive.

“If you’re a crow, you can fly across the river,” Brunson said, “but if you’re in a car, you have to drive around.”

The Port Royal Ace Hardware is the third Ace in Beaufort County – the others are in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island – and employs 20 people.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

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A new Ace Hardware has opened on Ribaut Road in the Royal Oaks shopping center in Port Royal. Karl Puckett

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Karl Puckett covers the town of Beaufort, the town of Port Royal and other communities north of the Broad River for The Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet. The Minnesota native has also worked at newspapers in his home state of Alaska, Wisconsin and Montana.

Edwin S. Wolfe