When Berkeley Ace Hardware leaves 2145 University Ave., an era will end. The store closes for the last time in its current location today, Monday. Generation upon generation of Berkeleyans have known and loved Ace Hardware. As it prepares to move to the northwest corner of Milvia and Addison streets (the Tioga Building), I have composed a list of what I love about Berkeley Ace, aside of course from the merchandise.
#1: The building. To learn about the building I wrote to preservationist, and former president of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, Daniella Thompson. She told me that James Plachek designed the building and that it was built in 1915. She sent me to an article she wrote for BAHA in 2007. In that article I learned that the building was home to Sill’s Grocery and Hardware from 1915 until 1924, Appleton’s Grocery until 1964, and Berkeley Hardware since 1964.
#2: The staff. What can I say? The staff. They will move with the store.
#3: The trains.
#4: The gum ball machine.
$5: The stairs to the basement. The signs. The little cars and Homies on wall on the way down.
#6: The model airplanes suspended from the ceiling.
#7: The slot cars down with the model trains.
#8: The Chuckles. My mother was very fond of Chuckles. I don’t know of any other place in Berkeley where Chuckles are sold. Scientific research shows that the red (cherry) ones are the most popular. I can do without them. The taste of Chuckles reminds me of little boy days.
Those are my reasons. I am sure that you have other reasons. That is why the Comment function on a website exists. Add away!
Change is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. All I am saying is that when Ace moves a few blocks south, we will lose something that is special and very good. We are lucky that we have had it. I will shop at the new location. I will remember this one. My children will remember this one.
Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means. For a fuller version of this post, see Quirky Berkeley.
Downtown Ace Hardware moving two blocks to Milvia Street (02.08.16)
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