by Gabe Meline
When trying to support local merchants, it’s helpful to know that some stores you might think are chains are in actuality still independently owned. Such is the case with Ace Hardware stores, many of which were already small hometown operations before taking on the “Ace” name and inventory. My go-to hardware store is the family-owned Mission Ace on Hwy. 12 in Santa Rosa, which began life as a downtown Santa Rosa institution known as Levine’s Hardware, on Fourth Street. In the 1970s, when 12 square blocks of downtown were zoned for redevelopment to make way for the mall, the owners of Levine’s Hardware didn’t tear down their building. Instead, they cut it in two, put it on the back of a flatbed truck, and slowly moved it three miles down the road to its current location. Go there now and you’ll find the old wooden sidewalk transformed into a wraparound front porch, and you’ll see the old paint loft from Levine’s still intact. What also hasn’t changed is the helpful one-on-one service. I don’t know how many curveballs I’ve thrown at their employees over the years, but they always find me what I need—after all, the family has been in the hardware business since 1960. Tools, paint, electrical, plumbing, lumber—you name it, they know it, and they’ve even got an expansive Garden Loft perfect for perusing on weekends, when there are free coffee and donuts at the front door. Before you ask, yes, the beautiful old green 1947 Ford truck is still used for deliveries, but no, you can’t drive it. I’ve been asking for 12 years! 4310 Hwy. 12, Santa Rosa, 707.539.7070.
The 25 Days Project is an online series through the month of December spotlighting some of our favorite local businesses. Read more about the project here, and about our commitment to shopping locally here.