Opening an Ace Hardware store in Reynoldsburg was just another piece of the American Dream for owner Viktor Prozapas, who emigrated to the United States from Ukraine in 1998.
"I knew this was a land of opportunity and I want to remind people that we can work hard toward our dreams and we can achieve those dreams," he said. "The opportunities are out there and anyone who really wants to can make it in this country."
Prozapas owned his own construction company for 10 years, then began looking for business opportunities.
"While I was looking around, I found out True Value closed on East Main Street last year, but that they did not close because there was no business, but because of high overhead costs," he said. "Then I started talking to local people and they said the city really needed a good local hardware store."
This was particularly true after Reynoldsburg's oldest business, Connell Hardware, closed last summer, meaning there was no hardware store in the heart of the city.
With a "Helpful Hub" desk to assist customers with special orders and, hey -- free popcorn -- Ace Hardware is open at 7088 E. Main St., taking over the space formerly occupied by True Value Hardware.
Prozapas has definite ideas about how he wants to operate his store.
"My mission as an owner in this community is to make it very personal," he said. "I want every person, family and business to think, 'This is my Ace.'
"People should come in to see us and bring their kids," he said. "We even serve fresh popcorn every day."
"The city is happy to welcome Ace Hardware as they join our long list of nationally recognized retail and restaurant businesses," Reynoldsburg Development Director Dan Havener said. "With their emphasis on helpful service and quality merchandise, along with their strong commitment to community involvement, Ace will provide consumers with a convenient and welcome alternative to the big-box hardware stores."
Prozapas said he looks forward to finding ways to serve his new community.
"We want to hook up with local sports teams and maybe have mulch fundraisers," he said. "I hope to find many ways to give back to the community. We hope to have events like pet-adoption days and we want fire department partners to come in and promote safety.
"I would also like to work closely with the police department and promote whatever is on their agenda," he said.
The store is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Grand opening days and special sales are planned for April 5 and 6.
"We want our grand opening to be as huge as possible," Prozapas said. "We will have some great sales."
The new hardware store offers Craftsman tools, Valspar paint, lawn and garden supplies, hardware nuts and bolts, screen repair, window cutting, key cutting, small engine repair, blade sharpening, plumbing and electrical supplies and more.
Prozapas said the Helpful Hub is a customer service area in the middle of the store where people can place special orders and get keys made.
"We cut all kinds of keys -- house keys, car keys and motorcycle keys, along with lawnmower tune-ups and chain sharpening and screen repair," he said. "Most special orders will be here in less than five days and later this fall, we will have same-day delivery."
He said a 1-million-square-foot Ace Hardware facility is scheduled to open this fall in West Jefferson, which could mean special-order items for Reynoldsburg could be obtained the same day the order is placed.