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  • At a PBA ribbon cutting to celebrate new ownership of Costello’s Ace Hardware in Lakeshore Plaza, the Costello family had the chance to meet the community their business serves. Lois Galford, an Ace employee since the Pasadena location first opened, did the honors of cutting the ribbon, just as she did in 1983.
    Photo by Brian Lancione
    At a PBA ribbon cutting to celebrate new ownership of Costello’s Ace Hardware in Lakeshore Plaza, the Costello family had the chance to meet the community their business serves. Lois Galford, an Ace employee since the Pasadena location first opened, did the honors of cutting the ribbon, just as she did in 1983.

Costello Family To Carry On Peterson’s Three-Decade Legacy Of Ace Hardware’s Community Service

Dylan Roche
View Bio
November 10, 2017

When people need to make changes to their home, either for practical or aesthetic reasons, they need to equip themselves with the right tools. When they want to beautify their yard or neighborhood common area, they want expert gardening advice. And when the forecast calls for a blizzard, they might simply seek a reliable place to pick up a new snow shovel.

As those at Costello’s Ace Hardware — previously Ace Hardware & Hearth — of Lakeshore Plaza will tell you, a retail business such as theirs tends to be integral to the needs of day-to-day life, and with longtime owners Pete and Michele Peterson now retiring and putting their business in the hands of the Costello family, they want the community to know that Ace will retain its same community-centered mindset it has always had.

“We fell in love with them from the minute we met them,” Pete Peterson said of the Costello family. “They’re just great people. They’re a privilege to know. They value associates, they value the communities they serve in, and they are people of integrity.”

Although the Petersons love running their business and being employers, Pete indicated that they’re “no longer spring chickens,” so they planned to sell to a new owner.

This new owner, however, had to be someone special. “We had two main concerns,” Pete said. “The well-being of our associates and that the communities were able to keep their Ace stores.”

The Petersons knew Ace Hardware & Hearth had long been a special part of the fabric of Pasadena, being the first store to open in Lakeshore Plaza when the shopping center was built in the early 1980s.

“Immediately, there was a kinship with the community,” Pete said. “Michele and my view was that we were family oriented, and our model and our mindset was that if you support a community, they’ll support you.” The Petersons became members of the Pasadena Business Association (PBA) and active philanthropists, donating to nonprofits, little leagues, schools, scouting troops and other groups.

When they decided to retire, they endured a six-month search before finally finding their successors through Ace Hardware Corporation, which Pete described as a “unique cooperative of like-minded retailers.”

The Costello family hails from New York, where patriarch Vincent Costello acquired a small hardware store in the 1970s that would eventually become known as Costello’s Ace Hardware in the early 1980s. “We were the second Long Island store affiliated with Ace; they were relatively unknown in our area then,” explained Mike Costello, Vincent’s son, who today owns and operates Costello’s Ace with five of his nine siblings. Vincent served as the company’s CEO until just before his death in June 2016.

Costello’s Ace Hardware owns 30 locations throughout New York, New Jersey and Maryland, and the family is proud to count the three stores the Petersons started — Pasadena as well as Glen Burnie and Edgewater — among that number.

“My understanding is when Pete wanted to sell his business, he reached out to Ace to recommend some operators that might be the best fit,” Mike explained. “We instantly hit it off with Pete and Michele. It was immediately apparent that we shared similar values. We both have a clear understanding that the most important people in our company are those who take care of our customers. We were very comfortable accepting the responsibility of the 100 Maryland employees knowing that they were from such a rich and caring culture.”

Mike emphasized that even though he, his family and most of the Costellos are from out of state, they are still dedicated to being a community-minded business. When they held a ribbon cutting through the PBA on October 27 to celebrate their new ownership, they had a chance to meet several of their customers personally. “My biggest thrill since we signed this deal was being able to stand in front of the store and greet customers as they came in, listen to what they think of us and the changes we made to the store, and let them know how much we appreciate their business in the past and going forward,” Mike said.

He is also pleased to have Doug Cashmere as his director of Maryland operations. Cashmere, who managed the stores for the Petersons since 2005, will be an integral part of ensuring Costello’s Ace continues to “stay local” and has “that local feel,” which Mike said is very important. “It’s about knowing our customers personally because the better we know them, the better we can serve them,” he said. “It’s about making sure we’re stocking items that are locally relevant. It’s about giving back to local organizations and clubs, and just being a good neighbor.”

Mike also praised Scott Ellis, general manager of the Pasadena store, as somebody who “exemplifies that spirit of community” as much as anyone else in the company. “He’s really connected to the community. He truly has a servant’s heart and sets an amazing example,” Mike added.

Through the PBA, for which Cashmere serves as vice president of the board of directors, Ace Hardware has contributed funds, volunteer hours and supplies for community events year after year. “They help with almost every function we do,” said Sandi Parrish, executive director of the PBA. “Pete and Michele Peterson were always very supportive of the PBA, and I was really pleased to meet the Costellos and see that they’re the same way — they’re all about community.”

Most recently, Ace Hardware helped put out signs directing the route for the Caring & Sharing Community Harvest Parade, and in the coming weeks, they’ll help put up and decorate Pasadena’s official Christmas tree in Lakeshore Plaza, and they’ll help deliver toys for A Child’s Christmas gift drive.

Cashmere explained that the idea of being there for the community is multifaceted. “We’re dependent on the community, and we know that the community depends on us,” Cashmere said.

It’s not always about philanthropy though — sometimes it’s simply about running a reliable business because there’s a need in the community, like the person who needs that last-minute snow shovel. “We open our doors in spite of the fact that many other businesses are having a snow day; certainly, we do that because it’s what we do and how we make money, but we have a sense of community responsibility to be there and be able to support the needs when the families need it,” Cashmere said.

For now, the Petersons are staying on to work with the Costellos for an undetermined period of time and ensure the transition goes smoothly. This way, Pete said, “the stores don’t miss a step and the community doesn’t see a disruption.”

Mike expressed gratitude to have Pete and Michele still onboard as a consultant and looks forward to continuing the Ace tradition in Pasadena. “To us, it’s not just about selling hardware,” he said. “It’s about creating relationships and maintaining great relationships with people who live and work around the store.”

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