Shaynen Schmidt purchases Ace Hardware stores in Alexandria, Long Prairie

He also owns Pro-Tainer and is co-owner of Alex Rubbish.

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Ace Hardware, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Broadway in Alexandria, was recently purchased by Shaynen Schmidt of Alexandria.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — Growing up in Alexandria, Shaynen Schmidt said he kind of had this dream of owning property and a business on Broadway Street.

“I just thought it would be neat growing up here,” he said. “Back in the day, you used to go to the different events on Broadway or shopping and all these things were happening. I thought it was neat and so I’ve always wanted to own property and a business on Broadway.”

Schmidt is a business owner — he owns Pro-Tainer and is co-owner of Alex Rubbish, both in Alexandria, but neither on Broadway.

Shaynen Schmidt

In March of this year, however, his dream finally came true. Schmidt now owns a business on Broadway, along with the property the business sits on. On March 16, 2023, Schmidt purchased the Alexandria Ace Hardware from Mike and Rocqui Gustafson. It sits on the corner of 4th Avenue and you guessed it, Broadway Street.

He also purchased the Ace Hardware in Long Prairie, which was also owned by the Gustafsons.


How it came to be

Schmidt said he has known the couple for about the last 20 years. He met them through Ace as he said they would supply all the nuts, bolts, fasteners and other hardware for Pro-Tainer.

“We became good friends and in the last couple of years, they had mentioned that they were looking at retirement,” Schmidt explained. “Being who I am, I said that if they wanted to sell to let me know because I would possibly be interested.”

He said in July 2022, they told him they were getting serious about retirement, which meant selling the business, and asked if he was still interested. Schmidt said the Gustafsons wanted to keep local ownership and a local presence of the business.

“With my other businesses, we are huge on promoting local and being local,” he said, noting that one thing led to another and he ended up purchasing both Ace Hardware businesses, plus the property they sit on.

Both stores are in essence independently owned franchises, but Schmidt explained they are co-ops, similar, he said, to a Cenex co-op. He is a co-op member and had to be approved as the new owner of the stores.

The Alexandria Ace Hardware actually started off as a Hardware Hank and was located across the street from its current location, 406 Broadway. It was opened in 1963 by Glade and Linnea Phelps, Rocqui Gustafson's parent. The store changed from Hardware Hank to Ace Hardware in 1991. And in 1999, it was moved to where it is today.

Changes to the store?

Customers won’t see any major changes to the store. Schmidt said the store will still be known for its convenience and customer service.

“When you walk into an Ace Hardware store, they want as many people as possible willing to help you,” he said, noting that the store is known for people coming in, getting what they want and then being on their way. If people are shopping for bigger ticket items, then they take more time, but Schmidt said with smaller items, the idea is to give customers the convenience and great customer service.


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In this file photo, many different grills are shown on display at Ace Hardware in Alexandria.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

As for products, he said he plans to explore some different avenues of products. With some gas powered equipment going away, Schmidt said he will be looking at more battery operated or cordless items. At this time of year, there will be a focus on outdoor equipment and accessories, along with grills. He plans to grow that side of things right now.

He said he was fortunate and “very thankful” to have the managers and staff stay on board.

“I’m glad they stayed on, that was a big key to all of this,” he said. “They are huge to the customer service side of it. I am very thankful for them.”

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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