JACKSON CENTER — For as long as most everyone can remember, the village of Jackson Center has had a hardware store. Though owned and operated by several different proprietors over the years, it managed to survive the progressive migration of shoppers to bigger cities and the effects the big-box chain stores have had on local shopping habits.
Jackson Center Pro Hardware, 112 E. Pike St., formerly owned by Tom and Judy Regula, will re-open on April 16. A grand opening is planned for May. The store has been closed since late December 2016 when Regula decided it was time for retirement and closed the door on what had been an enjoyable and rewarding career in the hardware business.
“It was a tough decision but we decided it was the time, so we closed up shop. Ted and Mary Stiefel had owned and operated the store for about 40 years before we bought it. I remembered the joy of going to JC Hardware as a kid so it was a dream come true to acquire and run the store. Naturally after all those years, it was very hard to let it go,” Tom said. “That was a great chapter in my life and living in a great community like Jackson Center and working with the people there made it all the better.”
Regula shared his enthusiasm about what the new owners have planned.
“We’re very excited about the new ownership and their desire to serve our community. They are updating the store and bring a lot of expertise with them. Little stores are defined by good service, and I believe they have what it takes. They will be a real asset to Jackson Center and the surrounding area.”
The store is now co-owned by Deron Yingst, of Piqua, and James Warnkey, of Kewashum, Wisconsin. The store will be managed by Kelton Yingst, who is Deron’s son. The store will have the same name and Pro Hardware affiliation.
Deron and Kelton Yingst have a combined 30 years of hands-on experience in the hardware business. Deron is currently a manager of Ace Hardware in Piqua and Kelton works there in the plumbing department. The Yingst family has extensive experience in home remodeling and new construction, said Deron.
“We own and maintain a lot of rental properties, which naturally led to learning the home improvement business first-hand. We went from installing our own cabinetry to selling and installing them for others,” said Yingst. “For quite some time, we have been looking for just the right place to open a store. We considered several places, including locations in Tipp City and Troy, which may still be a possibility in the future, but we’re starting in Jackson Center because we liked the home-town atmosphere and the sincere personalities of the people living there.
“We met Tom and Judy Regula at a home show and Tom told us about their store. He spoke highly of Jackson Center’s reputation of being a people-friendly place and the standing it has as an up-and-coming town. When we initially visited Jackson Center to have a look around, no matter where we went or who we talked to, people were just very, very, friendly. We liked that! The village just seemed like the perfect fit. We are extremely excited about getting to know everyone and invite folks just to stop in and introduce themselves. We look forward to being a part of the community,” Yingst said.
The new owners plan to make several changes in the offerings at the store and focus more on homeowners while maintaining the good working relationship Regula had with local industry.
“Tom concentrated on manufacturing and industry, and while we are going to rekindle that relationship, we also plan to address the needs of homeowners, as well” said Yingst. “We have an extensive variety of tools and hardware, along with a full line of plumbing and electrical parts and fixtures to meet most repair and remodeling needs. We will have a lot of new items and categories in the store. Our full-sized paint department offers custom mixing to match any color, and we are running a buy-one-get-one paint sale when we open,” Yingst said. “We also have a wide range of lawn and garden materials ready for those who are itchy to get started working outside.”
Along with all the other offerings, the store will have kitchen and bathroom cabinets for sale.
“We are already in the business of selling top-quality countertops and cabinets and have qualified installers to put them in,” Yingst said. “We will start out working with our present staff but we are looking for a good-quality local contractor or two who may be interested in doing home remodeling and cabinet installations. This will help us to expand our business and add to the local economy, as well. My son, Kelton, has extensive experience working in a hardware setting and will be managing the store. Kelton has been around this sort of thing all his life; he brings a lot of valuable experience to the store. He grew up assisting me in remodeling projects and began helping out at a very young age. Before moving into his present position working in hardware and plumbing, he spent his high school summer vacations working in construction and on housing additions in Tennessee.”
Kelton shares his father’s enthusiasm, saying he, too, is eager to get the ball rolling.
“I am really looking forward to building on Tom and Judy’s excellent reputation of providing good customer service to those living in and around Jackson Center. We have gotten to know them very well. They are wonderful people, very supportive, and we have become good friends. They are trusting us to take up where they left off, and we won’t let them down. As Dad mentioned, we are excited about being a part of the exciting time of growth here. We are big believers in giving back to our community and look forward to being part of the local family,” said Kelton.
At present, the store will have two, full-time employees and plans to add two, part-time employees in the future. The store is located on the corner of the main intersection in Jackson Center and will be open for business, Monday, April 16. Normal store hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.