Settergren Hardware purchases old Linden Hills Co-op building

LINDEN HILLS — Nine months after the Linden Hills Co-op packed up and moved to 44th & France, Settergren Ace Hardware purchased the vacant commercial building at 2318 W. 43rd St.

Mark Settergren, co-owner of Settergren Ace Harware (located at 54th & Penn in Armatage) and Diamond Lake Hardware (54th & Nicollet in Tangletown) said his plan for the 8,000 square-foot former Co-op building is to “make it Settergren Hardware in Linden Hills.”

Settergren said he is shooting for an October opening.

“We’re planning to bring a very green hardware store with lots of organic products, mowers and composting,” he added. “We’re hoping to have a little section of live bait, a section of kids toys — we want to make this a family-style store.”

News of the purchase generated some controversy. Bayers Do It Best Hardware has been a Linden Hills institution at the corner of 43rd & Upton for almost 90 years, and it’s unclear whether the neighborhood can support two hardware stores in such close proximity.

Mark Settergren said he hopes the two stores can co-exist. He and Bob Bayers, owner of Bayers Hardware, are discussing ways the two stores might merge and become partners rather than competitors.

In a letter addressed to his customers, Bayers wrote that news of the sale “was a complete surprise to us as it is to many of you.” The letter adds that discussions between Bayers and Settergren regarding a possible merger will continue over the next few weeks.

Some questioned why Dave Luger, the longtime owner of the old Co-op building, sold the property to a hardware store when other prospective purchasers presumably would have used the space in a way that doesn’t conflict with existing neighborhood businesses.

Via e-mail, Luger said Settergren was the “best qualified buyer. It was an open-market sale, very fair to all participants. Everyone including Bob had equal opportunity to offer.”

Indeed, Mark Settergren said it was his understanding that Bob Bayers had been given first crack at purchasing the building.

“We found out that Bayers Hardware had been offered the building first, and that made us feel a little easier about our morals,” Settergren said.

Settergren characterized the decision to purchase the old Co-op building as a move made out of necessity.

“We found out that two other hardware franchises were looking at it, and that made us nervous because we already have a lot of customers from that area shopping here at (54th & Penn),” Settergren said. “If a bigger corporation came in there and put in a big store, we were real concerned about our business, so we felt we needed to do this.”

Controversy aside, some Linden Hills residents are just happy to learn that the old Co-op building will again open for business after a year of vacancy.

Mark Dwyer, president of the Linden Hills Business Association, said “what I’ve heard from people is that they’re just really excited to have a good tenant in there. There is definitely some concern about how this will affect Bob and his business, but Settergren is reaching out to him in a way that’ll hopefully be win-win for both.”

— Reach Aaron Rupar at [email protected]