Major facade renovation project transforms this Hazel Park hardware store

What’s old is new again for Hazel Park’s longest-running business, Tony’s Ace Hardware, which has been around in one form or another since 1936. With a set of awnings scheduled to go up next week, the finishing touches on their facade renovations will be complete, an eye-catching project that has seen the family-owned business repair the building’s decades-old walls, restore the original brick facade, and install brand new signage.

It’s the type of renovation job typical of a trendy new bar or restaurant, not a hardware store. But for Sharon Abramsky, who co-owns and operates Tony’s with her husband Matt, going above and beyond what was necessary to repair the building was the obvious choice — at least to them.

“Our fellow hardware store owners think we are crazy,” Sharon says.

“We wanted to have something that was worth something, and not just financially but actually worth something,” Abramsky says.While your typical hardware store might opt for function over form, the Abramskys chose both. They even turned down an offer from Ace Hardware itself, which offered new signs for “next to nothing,” Sharon says. They instead hired Hazel Park’s own Ideation Orange to design and make the new signs and awnings.

In preparing for the historic renovation job, the Abramskys were able to utilize the expertise of Ron Campbell, a preservation architect provided by the Main Street Oakland County program. Sharon credits Campbell with showing the Abramskys what was possible in renovating their building, eschewing quick fixes for something more thoughtful and made to last.

They would finance the renovations themselves. And though the project may have cost the Abramskys a pretty penny, Sharon says that the Hazel Park community is worth the investment.

“We wanted to have something that was worth something, and not just financially but actually worth something. This is a they-don't-build-them-like-this-anymore building,” Sharon says. “I think for inner ring suburbs, it matters. I don't know, maybe I'm stupid or naive or something like that. All of us who live around here could probably have a much bigger house somewhere else for what we can afford, but we want to be in the older communities with the established trees and the history and the nearness to the city.”

Tony’s Ace Hardware is actually comprised of two buildings, a storage area built in the 1930s and the retail storefront built in 1955. The structural renovations mean that the Abramskys can now extend the retail area into the warehouse later down the line, Sharon says. The renovations now have the two buildings, which take up the whole block, looking like one complete building.

They had to take out the corner door at the front of the facade, which Sharon admits made her sad, but the actual entrance has been at the back of the building for years now. Plans to revamp the back entrance of the building are in the works for this spring, too.

At the corner of Woodward Heights and John R.The old brick facade was repaired, the white paint walnut-blasted off to reveal its original look. The windows were replaced and brought up to code. And the run-of-the-mill hardware store signs were removed and replaced with signs from Ideation Orange that now has Tony’s looking like it fits right in with neighboring hotspots like Mabel Gray, joebar, and Doug’s Delight.

The intersection of Woodward Heights and John R acts as the anchor of what’s considered downtown Hazel Park, Sharon says, and it was important to the Abramskys that Tony’s Ace Hardware lived up to that responsibility as one of its prominent members.

“Throughout the pandemic, the community has just lifted us up. Like, they chose us,” Sharon says. “Hopefully now we’ll be here another 80 years.”

Tony’s Ace Hardware is located at 24011 John R Rd. in Hazel Park.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.