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Bowman's helpful place: Newby’s Ace Hardware fills a void, sees success with 2nd location

Drivers on Highway 12 can’t miss the 13,000 square-foot building that is Newby’s Ace Hardware of Bowman, shown above on Feb. 28. The business opened in May and has filled the need in the community as a supplier of do-it-yourself projects. 1 / 3
Press Photo by April Baumgarten Ben Olin, the general manager of Newby’s Ace Hardware in Bowman, mixes paint by entering information on one of the store’s computers. 2 / 3
Press Photo by April Baumgarten The inside of Newby’s Ace Hardware in Bowman is seen Feb. 28. Owners Craig and Cliff Newby of Dickinson opened the Bowman location last year and have seen a good response from residents who felt the city was lacking a hardware store.3 / 3

BOWMAN — If there was something Bowman needed, it was a hardware store.

At least that’s what customers tell Ben Olin, general manager of Newby’s Ace Hardware, located in the city of 1,650.

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“I still haven’t gone a complete day without somebody thanking me for being here, telling us how much they appreciate the store, how big of a selection we have,” Olin said. “I hardly hear anything negative about the store or anything period.”

Cliff and Craig Newby, owners of the Dickinson-based Ace store, opened the Bowman branch in May. The tan building with wooden-roofed sides stands tall along U.S. Highway 12 on the west side of Bowman. Approximately 13,000 square-feet, Ace houses 10 employees and multiple products for do-it-yourself projects. Residents from across western North Dakota have been walking through the door for supplies for almost a year.

“It’s been wonderful,” Cliff Newby said. “The town has just been really supportive of local businesses.”

The Newbys’ last previous renovation was to the Dickinson store in 2009. The business moved from its building near Army’s West Sports Bar on West 12th Street to the T-Rex Plaza, only a few blocks away. The relocation added 9,000 square-feet.

After that, the company looked to other towns and opportunities.

Bowman, which is at the most southwestern corner of the state, seemed like the perfect place to expand the hardware business.

“The Bowman market was open as far as the need for a hardware store,” Cliff Newby said.

The closest hardware store is Hettinger, Olin said, which makes for a large customer base. The general manager worked at the Dickinson branch for seven years, adding the move to Bowman “was just too good of an opportunity to turn down at the time.”

“I think we are helping out the community and the surrounding communities for that matter,” Olin added. “I think it will be good for everybody.”

The key to success in Bowman was listening, Cliff Newby said. The business wanted to be a supplier for the people, making sure it considered what they wanted.

“Before we opened the store and started merchandising the store before it was built, we really took the community’s need into view,” Newby said. “We would ask people, ‘What do you want to see in a hardware store?’”

Newby knew the Bowman branch would need everything a typical hardware store would carry, but he wanted to add to it. The business features a variety of paints, an extensive hunting and fishing section, gardening products and even a houseware department.

People have also demanded more variety for planting flowers and vegetables. Newbys listened and decided to add a greenhouse for the spring planting season.

“We still get people that come in and say, maybe you should look into getting some of this or some of that to fill the needs of the community,’” Newby said. “We’re always trying to fill the void for the community.”

The dynamics, demographics and pace is different from Dickinson, Olin said. There has also been a learning curve, but the experience has been great, he added.

“You can’t really compare. It’s like comparing oranges to apples,” he said. “It’s a whole different game down here.”

Newby’s has added products since it opened last year, and the owner expects to keep adding more if needed.

“We have a really good draw area down there from Hettinger all the way to Beach and into South Dakota,” Newby said. “It’s a really good trade area.”

While the Newbys have no plans to bring Ace stores to other towns in western North Dakota, Cliff said, “We always have our eyes open.”

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.