It’s hard to imagine that Saine Ace Hardware began in a space that occupied less than 1,500 square feet. Fifty years ago, Kenneth Saine and his young wife Alta saved their money and decided that they wanted to own their own business.
“I was selling furniture and (Alta) was a secretary,” Kenneth said. “I had the idea that if I can work for somebody and make money for them, I can make money for us on my own. In the process I did everything from sweep floors to deliver furniture.”
“We went from a service station to a grocery store and ended up with a hardware store,” Alta said.
Saine Hardware opened its doors in November of 1964 in the building that now is home to The Tannery. The Saines moved into the building after it was built to house a sporting goods store. After the building sat empty for six months, Kenneth stepped in and Saine’s Hardware was born. To Kenneth, the location closer toward the western part of the county was just as important as the goods he sold.
“Growing up on a farm and all, in school, I did FFA for four years,” Kenneth said. “I did everything from tool judging contests to cattle judging contests. Seeing the buildings empty, I came up with the idea for a hardware (store) on the western end of town. At that particular time, it was more farm than it is now.”
The then-23-year-old grew a business from the ground up with his roots in mind, earning the trust and the business of “old-timers” and lifetime farmers. The store was opened with the amount of product that is now an average weekly order. Kenneth worked every day from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., manning the store by himself. He eventually hired a part-time book keeper. Alta continued to work her secretary job for the first four years that the business was up and running, paying all of the household bills out of her salary.
“Every dollar that came in the store, stayed in the store,” Kenneth said. “The only thing I took out was Coca-Cola money.”
The business made the leap to incorporate with nationally recognized hardware chain Ace and became Saine Ace Hardware in 1972.
It was Kenneth’s background on the farm that really gave him the edge when it came to customers from western Lincoln County. Though he was young, he built a loyal clientele, many of whom still trust Saine Ace their hardware needs. That trust has filtered down to new generations both in the store and in the public, as Kenneth and Alta’s two sons, Jerry and Terry, now run the store.
“When we got married, we set goals,” Alta said. “We wanted to retire when we were 50. And so we got to retire early. The boys took over.”
Growing up with the daily example of hard work and dedication made an indelible impression on Jerry Saine, as he reflected on his parents’ achievements and the strong bond that makes the business successful.
“Seeing mom and dad working, striving to be the best business they could for the community, the biggest blessing is family,” Jerry said. “We work together; we assemble equipment together, swept floors together. We go home together. That’s what we remember the most about growing up and being a part of it. It was family work, but it kept that family together.”
“It’s having what people want,” Terry said. “It’s our customer service.”
Family unity, strong work ethic, a willingness to grow and expand and customer service have seen Saine Ace Hardware through 50 years in the business community and they will celebrate their milestone on Saturday.
“We’re celebrating the community,” Jerry said.
“That’s a big part of it. It’s taken us to be here for the community but the community to be here for us to survive that long.”
Fifteen different vendors will be at the Saine Ace location on Saturday from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. with different demonstrations, as well as food and family fun
Saine Ace Hardware is located at 127 Spake Road in Lincolnton.