Royall ACE Hardware
Mt. Pleasant. 883 Ben Sawyer Blvd. 884-2551
According to our readers, ACE really is the place for the helpful hardware man ... and his family and staff. Royall ACE Hardware beat out the big guys (Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) in this year's readers' poll to take the top spot as Best Hardware Store in Charleston.
For over 30 years, store owner John Royall, 60, has been running his busy neighborhood hardware store at the three-point intersection of Coleman, Chuck Dawley, and Ben Sawyer boulevards in Mt. Pleasant -- a longtime meeting place for East Cooper workers and families.
"This store began as Willard Hardware," says Royall. "That opened in 1957 just across the parking lot from where our building now stands [the current home of East Cooper Sporting Goods]. Mr. Willard ran that with his parents and four daughters for years. Ben Albrecht, of Southern Lumber and Millwork, ran the shop in the 1970s.
Royall bought the business from Albrecht in 1976 and continued to stock and serve the same items and service. It was considered the "go-to" spot for basic household items, paint supplies, key cutting, glass cutting, hand tools and power tools, pipes, and electronics.
In 1990, John Royall, joined by his wife, Julia, his brother, Robert, and the staff, moved into a much larger facility built on two adjacent lots next to their original shop. The elegant, barn-like structure now houses the main shop with a full lawn and garden center at one corner and a tidy sandwich and snack shop called Johnny's at the other. The vest-wearing staff are scattered throughout the departments -- several greet each customer from the horseshoe-shaped check-out counter with a folksy "How yuh doin' today?" as soon as they walk through the front doors.
"We really try to be a customer-friendly store," says Royall. "About 65 percent of business is with local builders and contractors, but we've been serving several generations of do-it-yourselfers, too."