Robinson's opens hardware and garden center

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Olsen’s to change hands: Judd Robinson and William Swartz III stand next to the iconic bear at Olsen’s Ace Hardware & Garden Center in New Scotland. The business partners, who own Robinson’s Ace Hardware in Guilderland, have purchased the nursery and plan to open next month.

NEW SCOTLAND — Jim Olsen is selling his Olsen's Ace Hardware & Garden Center in the heart of the hamlet of New Scotland to Robinson’s Ace Hardware in Guilderland. The “new” store should open Jan. 2.

“He brings a lot of gardening experience to the table, and we bring the hardware,” said Robinson’s co-owner and store manager William Swartz III of Olsen. “There is a cross-merchandising aspect for both sides.”

Swartz and his business partner, Judd Robinson, opened Robinson’s Ace Hardware Rental Store next door to their Western Avenue hardware store in October.

“We didn’t have the space for it inside of the hardware store space,” Swartz said then. “We visited a few other rental shops to see how they were doing things and we consulted with people from Ace for guidance. We got recommendations for which equipment would be most popular in our geographical area.”

The shop carries lawn and garden equipment, like leaf vacuums, rototillers, plumbing snakes, carpet dryers, tile saws, and paint sprayers.

The business partners looked for nearly three years for an additional “ground-up” store in order to expand, searching sites in Duanesburg, Albany, and Schenectady, Swartz said. They found their store in Olsen’s in New Scotland, 10 miles away.

Olsen “wanted to get out of the retail business,” Swartz said. “He likes wholesale.”

Olsen did not return phone calls before press time.

“The agreement was back in September,” Swartz said. “The official date we open in New Scotland is Jan. 2. We’ve been working over there for the past month, one or two days a week.”

Swartz and Robinson have been meeting customers and employees, he said.

The two are purchasing the business with one contract, and the land in a second, Swartz said.

Because the two stores are both affiliated with Ace, “it makes it easier,” Swartz said.

“Ace cannot be involved with an Ace-to-Ace acquisition,” he said. Once negotiations are complete, Ace assists the new owners with the transfer, he said.

“Everything is very similar inside the store,” he said. “We get to reset that store with product, which brings that store up to new levels.”

Swartz explained that storeowners planning to sell may not invest in new Ace programs, such as newer, larger displays of LED, or light-emitting diode, light bulbs in the New Scotland store.

“It’s a great reset,” Swartz said of the chance to put out new products.

Swartz started at Robinson’s at age 17, and worked his way up to be store manager, and, eventually, partner.

“I grew up the Robinson’s way,” he said. His business partner, Judd Robinson — the third generation of Robinsons in the store — has a business degree.

“We’re just moving forward,” Swartz said.

Robinson’s has no plans for the land in New Scotland, which currently hosts greenhouses for the nursery.

The Guilderland stores are on 2 acres, Swartz said. The hardware store has 6,000 square feet of space.

“We want Robinson’s in Guilderland to grow more than it has. We’re so landlocked, we can’t go outside of our walls,” he said.

Olsen’s sits on 10 acres, and offers 10,000 square feet of space.

Swartz plans to keep the greenhouses, he said.

“They do very well over there. We just want to follow their lead on that one,” Swartz said. “It’s going to be a very positive experience for everybody.” 

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