Published in the April 12, 2012 Times-Sentinel
By Paul Rhodes and Scott Elpers
The new Williams Ace Hardware store in Goddard is up and running, and manager Jim Phillippe is excited about this weekend’s grand opening.
The new hardware store took over the old building that once housed White’s Foodliner in Goddard. The Dondlinger family, which owns Dondlinger and Sons Construction, purchased the building at the corner of 199th and U.S. Highway 54 at auction, which had been empty since the longtime grocery store went out of business last spring.
For Phillippe, the new job is an exciting change – but with a familiar twist. Phillippe had managed the local grocery store for 12 years before it closed, and had stayed on with White’s Foodliner at its other locations.
Phillippe, who had continued to live in Goddard with his family, said the offer to work for Williams Ace Hardware was a blessing. He said he had been hoping to find a position closer to home.
“I won’t get lost on the way to work,” Phillippe said with a laugh.
The new hardware store had a quiet opening on a Friday afternoon two weeks ago. That’s when the shelves were stocked, and Phillippe decided to change the sign outside to say “now open.”
“Our first customer came in immediately, and we’ve had brisk traffic ever since.” Now, everyone involved with the operation is ready for this weekend’s grand opening, which should move business traffic beyond brisk.
“We saw an opportunity in Goddard,” said Raymond Dondlinger, who is in operations and business development for the construction and hardware companies. “It’s a great community.”
The Goddard location isn’t the Dondlingers’ only endeavor into the hardware store business. They are also revamping a second Ace Hardware in Andover, which is set to open shortly after the one in Goddard. The Dondlingers also own and operate Williams Ace Hardware in Wichita, which was purchased last May.
Dondlinger said the opportunity to hire Phillippe as the store’s manager was a unique opportunity for both parties.
“A lot of people told me they had the perfect manager in mind for the store, and it was Jim,” said Dondlinger. “And they were right. He’s very committed to making this work.”
The 22,000-square-foot location in Goddard will have all of the staples familiar with most hardware stores, as well as more products geared toward agriculture, said Phillippe.
The hardware store will carry a variety of feed for livestock and pet food. It will stock fertilizer, stock tanks and have a repair shop for power tools and an indoor lumber yard. It also will have one of the largest collections of nuts and bolts in the area.
“Those are the kinds of things that we think will be important for us in this area,” Phillippe said. He said the store will have a full line of Stihl and Craftsman tools.
The Goddard location will have an adjacent coffee shop connected to hardware store. That will be a separate operation from the hardware store, and an opening for that business has not yet been announced.
Numerous improvements were made to the Ace Hardware building, most noticeably a new façade. A new concrete parking lot also was poured.
Phillippe noted that there will be other familiar faces on the staff at Williams Ace Hardware. He said he looked to the community first to fill positions, knowing that staffing for the new business will be key for its success.