Walking the aisles

A first-time visitor to Fuller’s Home & Hardware might need a few minutes to take it all in. But then, he might spend the better part of an afternoon exploring the offerings.

The family owned and operated Ace dealer in Hinsdale, Ill., has carved a memorable niche in this Chicago suburb with a two-story approach to home improvement. On the ground floor is the classic hardware store. Upstairs is the upscale “The Second Floor,” described as “the hardware store for cooks and more.” In his online note to customers, owner Doug Fuller describes the upstairs wares as “the most beautiful tableware gifts and kitchen goods.” A demonstration kitchen is part of the attraction.

The Fuller family took over the building from a more conventional hardware store in 2003. “We revamped the whole store — a nine-month process that completely changed the inside,” said Luke Fuller Goss.

Adding to the adventure, the Fullers converted an adjacent gas station into their extremely kid-friendly Dips and Dogs restaurant.

“Fuller’s has created a unique business with a lot of housewares and unique offerings,” said John Surane, Ace’s VP merchandising. “It’s anything but cookie cutter.”