News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 19, 2010

Hardware, hard times: Paitson Bros. Ace Hardware closes doors

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Home repair buffs and others got a shock Monday when they walked to the front door of Paitson Bros. Ace Hardware.

A notice on the door stated that the business is closed and gives no date for possible reopening.

However, business owner Chuck Procarione, who purchased the store from the Paitson family about four years ago, said the closing may only be temporary.

“We hope. We hope,” Procarione said when asked if the longtime Terre

Haute business will reopen. “It’s in the hands of lawyers.”

Paitson Bros. Ace Hardware, located in the Kroger shopping plaza at 25th Street and Wabash Avenue, experienced a leaky roof for 18 months, Procarione said. As a result, water entered the store and may have created air quality concerns, he said. To avoid any possible health issues, the store has been closed for “remediation,” he said.

The closure has affected about 25 employees who had to be laid off, Procarione said.

Ace is in a dispute with its landlord, Sandor Development Company LLC of Indianapolis, over the water damage from the leaky roof, Procarione said. Ace believes the landlord should repair damage caused by the leak. The landlord believes Ace should pay for the cleanup, he said.

Sandor officials could not be reached for comment Monday. A telephone message was left at the company’s Indianapolis office Monday afternoon.

Sandor Development Company owns all of the property at the shopping center, which includes Kroger, Starbucks, Penn Station and other businesses. Sandor paid more than $100,000 in Vigo County property taxes in both 2008 and 2009, according to county records.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do for a hardware store,” said one would-be customer after reading the notice on the door of the closed business. “I guess I’ll have to go to Menards,” he said.

Paitson Bros.’ final day of business was Sunday, the notice states.

Many other would-be customers could be seen Monday afternoon walking from their cars to the doors of the longtime hardware business and then back to their cars. Black plastic covered the windows of the store, making it impossible to see the inside of the store.

“It is with a heavy heart that we write to inform you that we find ourselves in the position that we must close our store,” a news release issued by Paitson Bros. on Monday stated. It concludes that “It was a pleasure serving you and we want to thank you for all of your support and business over the past 88 years, [sic] it has been most appreciated.”

In addition to being a hardware store, Ace also operated an equipment rental business at the Kroger Plaza location. Anyone with rented equipment should contact Paitson Bros. at (812) 691-0020, Procarione said. Anyone who has left equipment at Ace for repair or who has equipment on layaway should call the same number, he said.

Procarione said he will continue to keep the public informed as the situation develops.

The notice on the door of the store and a news release issued by Paitson Bros. on Monday does not state that the closing is temporary. However, callers to the telephone number given on the notice are informed that “the store is currently closed for remodeling and remediation work.”

The notice also points a finger of blame at Sandor Development by stating that the landlord failed to “promptly” repair the leaky roof.

“Earlier this week we were apprised of the evaluation from the microbiologist we hired and with the recommendations for remediation on the environmental hazards that have developed due to the 18 months of water damage when the roof was not repaired promptly by our landlord, our decision was made for us,” the notice and media release states. “Remodeling and remediation will have to be done by licensed remediation contractors before the building can be inhabited.”

Procarione said the remediation will involve removing all dust from above the ceiling tiles in the store. If the dispute between Ace and Sandor drags on, the store may not be in a position to reopen, he added.

Paitson Bros. Ace Hardware moved into its 34,000-square-foot eastside store in the fall of 1996 after 74 years at 12th Street and Wabash Avenue. Kroger moved into the same plaza, once commonly known as Kmart Plaza, near the end of 1997.

The strip mall was constructed on the site of the former Rose Orphans Home in the mid-1960s.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or