GEORGETOWN — Two Georgetown County hardware stores held their grand openings April 14 in a sign that growth is coming from smaller family-owned businesses.
After a soft opening, Walker Brothers Hardware at 1222 N. Fraser St. in Georgetown held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon, followed three hours later by Heuser ACE Hardware at 8317 S. Ocean Highway near Pawleys Island, formerly known as Palmetto ACE Home Center.
Heuser ACE Hardware is under new ownership by the Heuser family of the Hilton Head Island area, who own additional stores in Bluffton and Hardeeville in addition to a paint store in Hilton Head.
Floor Manager Kim Stewart said the store has been an answer to the rallying cry of "Don't Box the Neck," used by Waccamaw Neck locals in opposition to big-box stores since the newly re-opened the store is individually-owned and operated as a small business.
"They've spent the last year and a half really sort of revamping the store," Stewart said of the Heusers. "We've repainted the outside, did some work on the inside, really got the inventory levels up and we rearranged a lot of stuff in the main area here to hopefully make a little more enjoyable shopping experience."
Office Manager Terrie Walker of Walker Brothers Hardware said the Georgetown store has been in the works since 2021. She is the wife of David Walker, who owns the store with brother Terry. Both men are Georgetown natives, though David had since moved to Tennessee.
"Gradually, everybody's moved back to South Carolina," Walker said. "David and I were the holdouts. We had a hardware store in Tennessee. He decided he wanted to retire so he sold that store, and did not like retirement."
Eventually, Walker's brother-in-law, Terry Walker, who has a store in Conway, floated the idea of the brothers opening a store in their hometown. Supplied by Indiana-based Do It Best, the Walkers hope to cater to Georgetown's needs. In addition to hardware, they have stocked apparel and fishing supplies.
"Everybody likes the fact that they're from this area, people like the fact that we're a smaller business, locally-owned," Terrie Walker said of the store's business during the soft opening.