Since hearing about the break-in at Nicollet Hardware (3805 Nicollet Ave.) on Friday, April 22, customers have been showing their support for their neighborhood hardware store.
Everyone is glad that the resident cats, Daisy and Delilah, are okay.
“Overwhelmingly people are saying how sorry they are. How much they love us. How bummed they are that it happened. Whatever you need, we’re here to support you,” said co-owner Sam Rosch. “That’s really good to hear.”
Rosch received the call about the break-in from their security company at 3:46 a.m., and the police were there by the time he arrived 10 minutes later. Co-owner Elena Nelson and their store manager arrived soon after.
Rosch started cleaning up right away. Together, they assessed the damage. They boarded the main doors into the parking lot, and opened on time at 8 a.m.
Nelson posted a summary of what happened later that day on their Facebook page. She wrote: “At around 12:45 a.m., a couple people broke out the glass in our doors and proceeded to steal power tools, outdoor equipment, socket sets, cash and other minor things. It was basically a snatch and grab for the neighborhood. Six different people came in and took whatever they wanted. Some even helped themselves to a red Ace wheelbarrow to help get all the power tools in the vehicle. So please excuse the boarded up door while we get it fixed. Be patient with us as our power tool shelves are empty. Our future in power tools is unknown. With the supply chain issues it is hard enough to get them in stock, much less keep them from being stolen. If you recognize any of these people please inform the police.”
In all, about $6,000 was stolen.
“To add insult to injury, our alarm system company failed us,” remarked Rosch.
Their security cameras show that the burglars were sometimes in the store alone and sometimes in pairs. They wore COVID-19 masks. When the store alarm finally went off at 3:46 a.m., the people dropped what they had and left.
“At the end of the day, it’s just stuff,” observed Rosch. “No one was hurt. The cats weren’t hurt.”
They didn’t expect the Facebook post to blow up like it did, noted Rosch, as they were just trying to inform their customers about what happened to explain the boarded doors and empty shelves. In addition to generating 300 comments, they were featured on KARE 11, KSTP 5, FOX 9, CBS 4 and BringMeTheNews. Rosch and Nelson hope that someone knows something and will come forward.
Over the next week, they switched security companies, and ordered new glass. Rosch installed it himself on Wednesday. They were pleasantly surprised to find that they were able to stock back up on power tools within the week. By Saturday, April 30, the store was back to normal.
Rosch and Nelson purchased Nicollet Hardware from Rosch’s parents in 2017. Julene Lind had started working at the hardware store when she moved from Fargo, N.D. It was Fourth Street Hardware at the time. The hardware store merged with Nicollet Hardware around 1980 and moved its operations there, while the Electric Fetus took over the whole building at 2000 S. 4th Ave.
Lind bought the hardware store in 1986, becoming one of the few women hardware store owners in the industry. Steve Rosch, who had a construction company, joined three years later. In the mid-1990s they quadrupled the store’s size and took over the adjacent Nicollet Lanes bowling alley. Their philosophy was to remain at least 10 percent of the size of big-box hardware outlets. They also renovated the facade and added their distinctive red tile roof. Fifteen years ago, they added a parking lot on the south side.
Rosch didn’t initially plan on taking over the hardware store from his parents. In middle school, he helped stock the store twice a week, and started working there more in high school. “I came to realize I really liked it,” said Rosch.
“The most rewarding things, my favorite part, is helping people,” he added, “helping them solve their problems.”
Nelson started working at the hardware store when she was 14. It was a block from her house. She continued working there full-time while earning a college degree in child psychology. She stayed at the hardware store because the owners asked her to take on more responsibility for more pay. A few years later, they embarked on a five-year succession plan.
Nelson was 33 and Rosch was 25 when they officially became owners of the “Biggest Little Hardware Store in Minneapolis.” They share some duties, such as ordering and walking the sales floor. Nelson handles personnel and administration. Rosch focuses on building maintenance and the repair shop.
“I love Kingfield. I grew up here. It’s personal for me,” said Rosch. “We know everybody. We know customers by name.”
They hire high school students who come in and don’t know anything about hardware. “A year later, they’re nuts and bolts experts,” stated Rosch.
“We just want to say we’re not going anywhere,” stated Rosch. “We’re here to stay. We love our community.”
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