Iconic downtown hardware store in Potsdam expands under new ownership, grand opening planned
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
POTSDAM — An iconic downtown Potsdam business will show off new products, expanded store spaces and other new features at a grand opening July 8-10.
Evans and White Ace Hardware at 1 Maple St. is under new ownership by Gouverneur businessman Clark Porter. Longtime customers to the store will see many familiar faces behind the counter while getting new product lines and other new features at the downtown hardware destination in Potsdam.“I think I was drawn to the (then) active owners Pam (Evans Shallow) and John (White Jr.),” Porter told North Country This Week. “I was drawn to them and to the building. It’s a neat building. I don’t really care to have a store that looks like a big box store.”
Porter said the building features “old hardware store charm” and pointed out that the business is celebrating its 100th year in operation in the community.
“We ended up making additions but not many changes,” Porter said.
This will be the fourth hardware business for Porter who also owns Junction Building Supply in DeKalb Junction, Small Town Supply Ace Hardware in Gouverneur and the Noble Ace Hardware Store on State Street in Watertown.
Potsdam is a familiar place to do business for Porter who owns a host of rental properties in the community. The former BOCES teacher also owns a small appliance store in Gouverneur.
He credited the previous store owners and the team of people they employed who will continue on there.
“They care about the place. They care about the community. They care about the history of the building. They continue to be an asset,” Porter said.
“They didn’t put a single roadblock in the way for me,” the businessman said of the previous owners. “They’ve been great. John White Jr., he is boots on the ground. He’s getting stuff done, running the forklift. He’s a breath of fresh air.”
He said the store already had a solid team in place that was incredibly knowledgeable about the business. “Then you try to add in some new pieces,” Porter said.
Porter said part of his inspiration to purchase and rejuvenate iconic, local small businesses and buildings comes from the idea that if he didn’t, then maybe no one else would. Many times, in the North Country economy, when businesses shutter their doors they never reopen. Sometimes the buildings are repurposed, but often not.
The Evans and White building in downtown Potsdam, a massive structure, houses not only the hardware store, but also several other businesses including Jernabi Coffeehouse, Renew Architecture and The Frame Mill.
Porter said Evans and White will continue to have a focus on quality customer service, but will supplement with other products to meet the needs of local customers.
The businessman estimated that Evans and White has added about 10,000 more square footage of retail space and reopened the upper level of the store, which customers will see when they come to the grand opening.
He figured they have added about 1200 to 1500 new products. The store will still feature its extensive paint lineup with a few new additions. New to the store will be a huge selection of grilling products, from various lines of high end to more affordable grills and all of the accessories, rubs, sauces and other accompanying products. The new Evans and White will offer Yeti product lines, as well as Trager and Big Green Egg products, among others.
The store will also have an enormous power tool display featuring DeWalt and Milwaukee tools. “We will have a DeWalt display that’s probably the biggest in the county,” Porter said.
Porter said the store’s location and convenience, coupled with the expanded product line, will continue to be one of its best attributes to draw local business. “In Potsdam, you’ve got a lot (of construction) going on. You have millions being spent here all the time,” he said. He hopes the store’s key location will inspire local contractors needing to resupply to stop in and get their materials and tools from Evans and Whites.
The store will also now feature product lines of toys, housewares, footwear, and some workwear.
He is also enhancing the store’s rental equipment section with many new tool additions.
Porter said planned additions in the future include fishing, RV and camping products.
The new owner said the store is considered to be an A super format store, which means it contains the largest selection of goods recommended for any store. He pointed out that the average Ace store contains more product SKUs than the average Lowes. The Potsdam store sports 30,000, of which 19,000 have been added since he took over.
The exterior of the store will feature barn quilts on the river side of the building, matching the look of some of his other North Country stores.
“But they will continue to have the services they've done well with all along,” Porter said of the store.
The business will still offer key cutting, window and screen repair and skate sharpening, as well as the other services customers have come to expect.
The grand opening, featuring Big Green Egg grilling company, on July 8-10 will feature sales, product giveaways, and a chance for customers to get a look around the expanded business.
New hours for the business are Sundays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.