SPANISH FORT – In 2015, Steve Ascik and his wife, Alisa, opened Eastern Shore Ace Hardware in Spanish Fort as a second career after Steve’s 30-year run in the industrial and consumer products distribution industry. Today, Ascik was recognized as a Silver Alabama Retailer of the Year in the Annual Sales Between $1 Million and $5 Million category. Eastern Shore Ace Hardware is among 11 retail businesses being honored by the Alabama Retail Association as the 2021 Retailers of the Year.
The locally owned and operated hardware store offers helpful and friendly service to all who walk through its doors. From the beginning, Ascik’s goal has been to provide excellent customer service and enjoy the experience every day. “Folks drive across town to do business with Steve and his crew,” said Casey Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, who nominated Ascik for the award. “His staff is very knowledgeable, and it takes you back to a time when your hardware store could answer all your questions about the project you are undertaking or the problem you are having.”
Providing excellent customer service requires innovation, and in January 2020, Ascik implemented new online programs with hopes of better serving his customers. Eastern Shore Ace Hardware was one of less than 34% of Ace dealers that initially chose to participate in the Buy Online Pick-up in Store and Buy Online Delivery from Store programs. As the challenges of 2020 unfolded, Ascik’s investment in his customers paid off and ultimately helped the store double its sales volume.
“Our timing for these programs could not have been better,” Ascik said. “The ability to direct customers to our online site became a useful tool later on.”
As Baldwin County and the Eastern Shore experience unprecedented growth, Ascik is preparing to expand his business as well to a second location in Daphne. “We feel fortunate to be in a community that has supported us since the day we opened in 2015. It’s a privilege to serve our neighbors in Spanish Fort, Daphne and the entire Eastern Shore,” Ascik said today when accepting the award.
Ascik’s commitment to the Eastern Shore community stood out to the Retailer of the Year judges.
Every year, Eastern Shore Ace Hardware orders 100 Easter lilies and hydrangeas for Spanish Fort United Methodist Church to decorate for its Easter services and sell to its members as a fundraiser. When the church had to cancel its 2020 Easter services, Ascik organized a fundraiser for Prodisee Pantry, one of the largest food banks in the area, using the flowers he had already ordered.
“We found an opportunity to help,” Ascik said. “When we posted the promotion on Facebook, we received the largest single day response that we had seen since opening our store and raised more than $1,600 for Prodisee Pantry.”
Pete O’Neal, president of the Friends of the Spanish Fort Public Library, an organization of which Ascik is a founding member, said, “Steve Ascik is an irreplaceable, treasured asset to the Spanish Fort community.”
The Alabama Retailer of the Year awards, started in 1999, honor retailers who have demonstrated growth, innovation and a commitment to their respective communities. This year’s winners were selected from 49 entries submitted from a pool of 80 nominees.
“Steve Ascik is a retailer of the year EVERY year to the Eastern Shore Ace Hardware’s customers, its 14 employees and the Spanish Fort and other Eastern Shore communities,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown.
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,300 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.