‘We want to support the community we love,’ owners say
EPHRAIM—Logan and Margaret Ray, the owners of the new Ace Hardware store on Main Street and 400 South in Ephraim, admit there have been a few “holy cow” moments when they’ve wondered what they’ve gotten themselves into.
But those thoughts are quickly overshadowed, Logan says, by confidence that running what will be one of the larger retail businesses in Ephraim is what they want to do and what they’re meant to do.
“We want to be able to support the community we love,” Margaret says.
Sizeable crowds showed up for the grand opening Friday and Saturday, especially Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. when the store opened for rock-bottom price sales on items ranging from tarps to light bulbs to bird seed.
Over the two days, customers could sign up for prize drawings for items ranging from a Milwaukee drill set to a barbecue grill.
During the day Saturday, they could dip barbecued meatballs into sample cups to taste at least a half dozen flavors of barbecue sauce that will be sold in the store.
Logan, who grew up in Ephraim, is the son of the late Gary Ray and Nancy Ray. His father operated a used-car business on the site where the store is now located. Margaret is from Elsinore in Sevier County. They met at Snow College in 1999.
Prior to getting involved in the hardware-store project, Logan ran his own steel fabricating business, which did work similar to what Sanpete Steel of Moroni and CO Building Systems of Ephraim do.
They “started getting ready for this adventure,” that is, building and operating a new hardware store, about three years ago, Logan says. About a year ago, they signed an agreement to join the national Ace Hardware co-op. Under the agreement, Ace provides consultation and many of the products. But the Rays are the owners and make all the decisions.
The Rays bought the land for the store from Logan’s family. They ordered their metal building from CO Buildings in August 2020. “We designed the building to fit the lot and the size of store we wanted to have,” Logan says.
They hired Warner & Associates Construction of Spanish Fork to assemble the building, put in the heating and air conditioning system, pave the parking lot and put in landscaping, among other jobs. Logan notes that the construction company “used a lot of local resources” on the project.
The building was finished in August of this year. But it took four weeks for a setup crew to assemble shelving and stock the shelves. The crew organized the store according to a site plan Logan made up using computer-aided design (CAD) software. The store opened for business—had a “soft opening’—in September.
“We want to have a family-friendly store,” Margaret says. One way they hope to achieve that is by selling what they believe local families need and want. To make sure kids have a good time in the store, they have some pint-size shopping carts the youngsters can push around behind their parents.
“We’re more than just a hardware store,” Margaret adds. Besides tools, paint, building supplies, etc., they sell soft drinks, snacks, a few over-the-counter drug items and plan to add sporting goods, including firearms. The even have a section for LDS books and art from Deseret Book and Covenant Communications.
The Rays said they want the store to exemplify the Ace motto of being “the helpful hardware place.”
Their assistant manager is Aaron Cheney of Ephraim, who, prior to joining Ace, worked for Snow College building scenery for the Theater Department. Many of their employees have experience related to the products they sell.
The Rays say they have been “blessed” with enough financial resources to get into the business. They also have a friend outside Sanpete County as a major investor.
The Rays have four sons. The oldest, James, 20, is serving an LDS mission in Iowa. The second son, Jesse, 18, is working for the store full-time.
Their two younger sons, Jacob, 15, who attends Manti High School, and Joey, 10, who is at Ephraim Elementary, help out, too. In fact, even Joey has his own red Ace Hardware vest.