Downtown Dynamo: The Kevin Fisher Success StorySep 27, 2023 04:17PM ● By Pam Kessler
In the heart of Downtown Walnut Creek, Ace Hardware stands as a testament to Kevin Fisher’s entrepreneurial spirit. From a childhood surrounded by the orchards of the South Bay to the business classrooms of Santa Clara University, Fisher's journey through AG Economics and corporate power at Tri-Valley Growers is one of purpose and vision. Life also brought personal joys: a loving partnership with his wife Deborah Donnelly and cherished moments coaching their three daughters in various sports.
Guided by his past and propelled by future aspirations, Fisher transformed part of his Mt. Diablo Boulevard commercial property into the now-iconic Downtown Walnut Creek Ace Hardware in 2008. It didn’t take long for the store to earn its reputation as the city’s prime destination for an array of needs—from basic bolts to luxurious French candles. It’s the place where DIY paint enthusiasts rub shoulders with professional contractors, while others shop for the perfect holiday ornament or gourmet treat.
In Fisher’s words, “We're a community store that people value. We went from an abundance of hardware stores in the late 90s to a sudden void. People are happy we are here.”
Happy is an understatement. The daily
hustle of eager shoppers, combined with a flourishing online presence, has
propelled the store to an enviable $10+ million in annual sales. Fisher’s
handpicked team of 35-40 employees, from a broader 70-strong cohort, work
tirelessly engaging and assisting customers, many who boast a decade-long association with the store.
But perhaps one of its greatest charms is the “G-scale” model train, weaving its path around the store on an elevated track, paying homage to local bridges and earning the store its nickname “the Ace with the train.”
In 2020, amidst competition from 5,300 stores worldwide, Downtown Walnut Creek Ace Hardware won the Ace "coolest hardware store" award. John Tovar, VP, Retail Operations and New Business at Ace Hardware Corporation remarked, “The team at Downtown Walnut Creek Hardware exemplifies what makes Ace great – helpful, unique, and always striving to meet the changing needs of the community.”
As for Fisher, he’s far from done. He’s now channeling his energy into amplifying their online presence and developing a sophisticated order management system “to serve individual consumers and retail businesses.”