Historic Robertson’s Ace Hardware closing

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Photo by MICHELLE STEPNIEWSKI
Jeff Rauh, owner of the Robertson’s Ace Hardware, contemplates the store closing. “It will be most difficult to say goodbye to some longtime customers and working with the guys I am now,” Rauh said.

By BRITTANY SEEMUTH

Robertson’s Ace Hardware, located in the Village of Wauwatosa on 1417 Underwood Ave., is shutting its doors later this month after 92 years of service to the community.

Owner Jeff Rauh cites the store’s closure to the buyout of many of its customers’ businesses. Fifteen years ago, in a preventative measure to keep flooding out of the area, the City of Milwaukee bought out many of the businesses along the Menomonee River.

According to Rauh, parking has also been a constant problem because of the high number of restaurants located in the village. He said more restaurants are only expected to open in the coming months.

Deb Karpfinger, owner of The Flower Lady, a flower shop just steps from Robertson’s, said the winter months will make the issue of parking more difficult.

“Parking is a huge issue right now – not only for customers, but employees as well. Customers often drive around looking for parking and get frustrated; this will be amplified in the winter months when they are less willing to brave the cold.”

A final contributing factor is the closing of Wauwatosa Avenue, expected to take place next year, which will last for three months. The city will make repairs from State Street to Harwood Avenue.

Rauh expects the road closure to further limit access to the store.

“When you start adding up all the factors, you realize, now is the time,” Rauh said.

Customers and local business owners are also adjusting to the change as a result of the store’s closing. Nan Metzer, director of international studies at Mount Mary, has been a customer of Ace Hardware for the past three years.

“I love the old-feel of the store; it’s like taking a step back in time,” Metzger said. “Also, the staff is always available and helpful. This is in contrast to other hardware stores, such as Home Depot, where it can be difficult to find a customer service representative.”

According to Karpfinger, the closing of the hardware store will mark the end to an iconic feature of the Village of  Wauwatosa.

“Robertson’s Ace Hardware is the cornerstone of the village and has been a vital part of our community for 92 years,” Karpfinger said. “The business and employees will be sorely missed as this kind of integrity and commitment to customer care is rare!”

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