Hardware superstore opens its doors today

Alaska Industrial Hardware set to serve Juneau

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2003

Four months after Family Grocer vacated its retail space in the Airport Shopping Center, Alaska Industrial Hardware is opening its doors there today.

"We officially took control of the building Feb. 1, and in 90 days we have completely remodeled the inside," said Dennis Watson, the Juneau store manager for Alaska Industrial Hardware, a company based in Anchorage.

The building has a new floor, lighting system and heating and ventilation pipes.

"A lot has been somewhat cosmetic," Watson said. "We've used well over 100 gallons of paint."

All of that remodeling will benefit Juneau remodelers - and contractors, and carpenters, and hobbyists - as they gain access to one of the largest hardware stores in the state.

"Juneau's a very self-sufficient community," Watson said. "I would say the vast majority of the people who live here know more about home and property maintenance than a lot of the folks do that live in the larger communities down south. They know what's available and they know what they need."

The first Alaska Industrial Hardware was in a Quonset hut in Anchorage in 1959, said Mike Kangas, the company's vice president and general manager.

The retailer now employs about 220 people in its seven Alaska stores and two stores in the Lower 48.

Opening a store in Juneau is part of an expansion the company began 10 years ago, Kangas said.

He started planning for a Juneau store about two years ago.

"The population base is large enough, it has a local government with its own utility base, and there's an ample amount of construction to keep us busy," said Kangas.

The 20,000-square-foot Jun-eau store will have an inventory that ranges from "small nuts and bolts to totally the other end with regard to specialty tools," Watson said.

"It's almost difficult to describe," he said. "It's like a department store. You go into a Nordstroms or a Bon Marche and you see all the new things, and you see the traditionals."

The store will contain a broad selection of power tools, ceramic-tile saws, pipe wrenches, welding equipment and air compressors, among other items.

"I would say we carry in excess of 20,000 different items in the store," Watson said.

Being part of a large, Alaska-based company will carry many advantages for the hardware store, he said.

"They're much more attuned to the Alaska customer and their needs," Watson said. "We have the ability to respond very, very quickly to meet the needs of the community, and we're a big enough company that we can buy direct from manufacturers."

Watson comes to the store with more than 30 years of experience in the retail sales industry. The store will have 18 full- and part-time employees.

Alaska Industrial Hardware will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 790-3300. The company plans a grand opening celebration for the store later in May, officials said.

Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.

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