The new Buck Electric/Ace Hardware building will open this spring with features that include a large covered outdoor area for garden supplies, more room inside for the thousands of items the business already stocks, and opportunities to add new products and services as well.
In an interview with the North Coast News and questions answered by founder Steve Buck and son Stephen Buck, the family-owned business outlined its long-awaited commercial move to the new Pt. Brown Avenue location about a block away.
“We hope to open the doors in early spring, and late spring or early summer we’ll have a grand opening,” Stephen Buck said after a tour of the 33,000-square-foot new building, estimated to be about 25 percent bigger than the current one. The shelves have been ordered, the electric doors are installed and the new offices have been framed. “We want to get in there, shake the dust off and then throw a grand opening.”
The Bucks wanted first to express their gratitude for the community support they have received over more than 40 years in Ocean Shores, and acknowledge Pat Brunstad, longtime local builder, for managing the current construction project.
In 1977, Steve Buck started Buck Electric as an electrical contractor working on the second wave of the building boom in the early days of Ocean Shores Development. As someone who attended the old North Beach High School in Moclips while washing dishes in the original destination jewel in the area — the Ocean Shores Inn — Steve Buck realized there was a need to offer more than just electrical service, opening a store-front business to sell light fixtures, light bulbs and other items.
There was never any question about where he wanted his business to be: “He will tell you he is proud to have gone to school here, and proud that his kids went to school here, and his grandkids,” Stephen said about his father’s love for the area.
“He saw the need for something that would handle more than he was already doing,” son Stephen explains of how Ace Hardware came to be.
In 1986, the business became Buck Electric/Ace Hardware in the spot where the pharmacy now is now located, and in 1999 moved to its most recent location, with the help of grocery store owner and property owner Dick Morris, who currently is redeveloping the shopping area off Chance a la Mer in the Sunset Plaza project. The Bucks said they would like to thank “Mr. Morris and family for helping their business find its second home, and working with them as landlord for the last 20 years.”
The current location was built as a mall and included a couple other businesses, such as the former state liquor store, but Ace kept expanding as Ocean Shores began to rebound after the recession, eventually taking over the rest of the retail space, going from 16,000 square feet to about 24,000 square feet in size. The Bucks also own the Ace Hardware business in Hoquiam.
The move to the new location on Pt. Brown actually began about five years ago when the Bucks began to look for property where they could not only own and run the business, but also own the land and the building and expand once again. The only real challenge was getting enough property to make it feasible.
“As we were looking for a spot, we looked at other places,” Stephen said. “But what appealed to us about the Pt. Brownsite was that it still is on the main boulevard, you can see it, it will have good in- and out access for customers. We had to buy that property from five different entities.”
All the current employees, about 30 people, will make the move, and the electric service will continue too.
The business employs three people who have been there more than 20 years each, and many who have been there more than 10 years.
“They are locals, with local families and all that goes with it,” Stephen said, noting his father instilled in him the importance of community support and dedication.
Stephen was a longtime member of the North Beach School Board, and the business has sponsored popular features such as its Ladies Night celebrations.
The employees are part of the Buck family at large in many ways: ”That’s what it feels like. You just adopt one another.”
As for the future of business in general in Ocean Shores, Stephen Buck sees the slow signs of progress: “The year-round base obviously has grown, and more folks are living here. With that has come more businesses and more visitors.”
There is nowhere else in Ocean Shores where you can get fully equipped and licensed to go razor clam digging or find that much-needed snow shovel and rock salt to clear your driveway or an exact match to paint your house the same color as the contractor who did the original work. You can even buy a guitar and strings, or maybe a fridge and lawn mower.
Now, the business will feature a much-needed expanded garden area — about 2,000 square feet — that will be protected from the elements. Trucks making deliveries will be able to pull in off the main boulevard and turn into the loading entrance to the south. Other plans are for more items to be offered as needed.
“The more people that are here, the more needs there are to fill,” Stephen Buck said.
Will the new building spark further development?
“I believe a rising tide floats all boats,” Stephen said, complimenting Arrow Lumber for taking over the former Levee Lumber business in town. “That’s good for us. We compete on a few things, but we send people to them all the time, because they carry products we don’t carry. The more successful businesses are, the more successful our city is.”
What’s the best thing about the new building for the Bucks? ”We will be better able to keep up with the growth of Ocean Shores. Our neighbors and our customers are our first priority.”