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"Going to Bain's" Takes on New Meaning with New Owners in Sea Bright, Spring Lake, Pt. Pleasant Beach

Updated: Jun 26


Alanna McAllister and Cassandra Ferrigno, New Co-Owners of Bain's Ace Hardware. Photo credit: R.C. Staab


Anyone who has lived or vacationed in Monmouth County has inevitably stopped at Bain's Hardware. Maybe they stopped to get a certain wrench, buy an outdoor grill for the weekend barbeque or load up with summer essentials such as beach chairs or suntan lotion. Far from being a standard hardware store, Bain's had become an institution -- a hardware store, a paint store, a beach store and an five-and-dime store rolled into one. Even with with very different layouts at each of his three stores in Sea Bright, Spring Lake and Pt. Pleasant Beach, you always knew you were in Bain's.


Often customers would encounter owner Frank Bain in front of the store or behind the counter. He was one of the people who typified the word "character". He was often quoted as saying, "If we don't have it, you don't need it."


After many successful years as a business owner, Frank quietly sold his businesses in September of 2023 to sisters Cassandra Ferrigno and Alanna McAllister. For many regular customers such as myself, at the first the change was imperceptible. As Cassandra says, "We're trying to keep things low-key because we want everybody to understand we are still going to give you the best customer service we can, have the same breadth of products you're used to, the same ability to get what you need, just different faces doing it.


New Bain's logo. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

The Ace Hardware Advantage

Cassandra says, "Frank had been dealing wth Ace for many, many years, but he just chose not to be what they call a branded store, meaning he wasn't flying the Ace flag, wearing the Ace merchandise, promoting Ace. He was promoting their products by selling them."


As part of the purchase arrangement, the new owners were required to be an Ace-branded store. "The benefits of being an Ace branded store is we can use their technology, their online ordering, their Ace rewards, their national campaigns to help get product or customers into their store," she says. "As a customer, you don't have to come in to the store and ask for something. You go online and you order through Bain's Ace Hardware." Then the product can be shipped directly to any of three stores or pick-up.


 

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Since Covid, she notes, many people have become accustomed to ordering online. Now with a stronger Ace connection and their online tools, they have broadened the picutre for all members of the community to be able to feel comfortable getting products anyway that suits them.


Frequent customers may notice a subtle difference with the store logo. Ace Hardware is more prominent. In Sea Bright, there may be a more "dramatic" change when the sign above the store is replaced. Cassandra says that the sign "has had the Shore beaten out of it. It's time to change, in time," she says.


Alanna and Cassandra in Bain's Ace Hardware Sea Bright. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

Ideal Partners to Run a Hardware Store

Over time, Frank Bain had developed a unique hardware store. Cassandra calls it a "woman's hardware store." Sure there were essential tools of every kind for contractors but also items of interest to everyone. Perhaps it was destiny that the woman's hardware store that Frank fashioned would be sold to two women.


During a recent visit for this story, I encountered Cassandar assembling a Weber grill with as many 100 different parts. She seemed undaunted by the task. It's no surprise she handles the hardware side of the business beause she has always been involved in "Nuts and bolts. Putting things together." Growing up in Florida, she always wanted to escape the heat and live in the Northeast where she was born. Twenty years ago, she moved to New Jersey, first for a company selling spare parts to the government and then for a contractor as a quality insurance manager.


In 2012, impacted by Superstorm Sandy, she went to work for A Future with Hope program established by the United Methodist Church to help less fortunate people renovate and rebuild their homes. For two and a half years, her job was to make sure 50 families were able to get back into their homes. Althought she worked from Union County to Atlantic County, most of her time was spent in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.


Exploring new business opportunities with her sister and brother-in-law who were involved in francishing, they started talking to people at Ace Hardware. From the Ace Hardware team, they learned that Frank Bain was quietly looking to sell all three of his businesses. Cassandra says, "As soon as I heard that, I said 'That's what I want. That's exactly what I want." "Frank is a wonderful person to do deal with. We met him and it was almost instanteous that we all agreed that this was going to happen."


On the sundry or front-of-the-store side, Alanna hasn't been introducing hundred of new products, but shifting many of the existing products around. She says, "I think there were a lot of hidden gems that people didn't see." As a regular customer, the front of the store seems very different, but she assures me that's not the case, unless you include the recently added wood wine stoppers with "cute little beach sayings".


Bain's Ace Hardware Sea Bright. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

What in Store for Bain's?

Don't expect a name change, Cassandra says. "We choose to leave the name as Bain's Ace Hardware, because everyone knows Bain's. Anywhere in the country you go and run into someone who's been to Monmouth County, they say, 'Oh, is that the little hardware store in Sea Bright?' Frank did a a great job of cultivating this as a purposeful and useful place. I don't think there's anyone in Northern Monmouth County that hasn't stopped here. Everyone says, 'I'm going to Bain's.' "


Eventually, they hope to take a small space in the back of the Sea Bright store and turn it into a museum of sorts with old tools and signs taken down from the walls. "We have some really cool trinkets," Alanna's says.


Most importantly, Cassandra wants people to know that Bain's will always be there for them. "The only thing we are out of stock on is bad service," she says. "That's the only thing you can't get here."


Bain's. Photo Credit: R.C. Staab

Bain's Locations

Stop at Bain's in any of their locations:


Bain's Ace Hardware Sea Bright

1092 Ocean Avenue

Sea Bright 07760

732-530-9425


Bain's Ace Hardware Spring Lake

1301 3rd Avenue

Spring Lake 07762

732-449-6406


Bain's Ace Hardware Point Pleasant Beach

528 Arnold Avenue

Point Pleasant Beach 08742

732-892-5200




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Nina Mina
Nina Mina
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