Shine the light: Ace Hardware changes its bulb offerings
Tony Lemus of Touchpoint 360, a merchandising company, revamps Ace's lighting department last month in downtown Skokie. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Where: 5035 Oakton in downtown
When: Open 7:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
Information: (847) 673-0700
Updated: December 23, 2012 6:12AM
SKOKIE — Ace Hardware in downtown Skokie has seen the light when it comes to lights.
Skokie’s oldest business has completely revamped its lighting section to keep up with regulations regarding the sale of light bulbs.
It’s another example of the balancing act in which this store engages. Skokie Ace Hardware is faithful to its roots — its corner store origins that began about 100 years ago — but it also keeps on top of the more modern needs and regulations that apply to today’s customers.
Some governments around the world, including the United States, have passed measures to improve the energy efficiency of light bulbs used in homes and businesses. The goal is to promote energy-efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent and LED lamps.
The American Lighting Association sees the government regulation as more of a replacement program than a ban. According to the ALA, the 100-watt incandescent bulb stopped being produced this year. This change and future scheduled changes in light bulb technology prompted Ace to bring in the new through the revamping of the entire section.
“We’re really excited about the changes,” said Elizabeth Burton of Skokie Ace Hardware. “We have all of the up-and-coming, state-of-the-art lighting prominently on display now.”
The new display even features a small section to test the different types of lighting and the effects they produce.
Mark Schoenwolf, who has worked at Ace for 45 years, said the bulbs being phased out have been relocated to an end-of-aisle area so there will be little complication when they’re gone.
What that means is that the incandescent 100-watt bulb is certain to join the likes of the horse and buggy, bell-bottom pants and eight-track tapes sooner or later — probably sooner.
“Once these last bulbs have been sold out, you won’t be able to get them anymore,” Schoenwolf said.
Another change is that packaging on the new bulbs must display lumens as well as wattage.
Ace used to have fewer halogens and LEDs, but now they will become the bulbs of choice at the store.
“Everything changes,” Schoenwolf said. “This is what we’ll all be carrying because the other bulbs won’t be produced.”
Schoenwolf said Ace’s light bulb aisles had not changed for at least 15 years. The revamping of the light bulb section follows a pattern of Skokie’s oldest store keeping up with the newest changes. For example, Burton showed state-of-the-art vacuum cleaners the store now carries.
But perhaps the most noticeable immediate change for this store is outside rather than inside. Oakton Street in downtown Skokie is having its own facelift with serious infrastructure upgrades.
“But we’re still here. We’ll always be here for our customers even during the construction,” Burton said. “There are back arteries to get here if customers have any problems on the major streets, and we’ll even come to them if they can’t get here.”