The owner of the Ace Hardware in the Meadowood neighborhood adamantly disputes contentions of Mayor Paul Soglin in my latest column.

Among other points, Soglin said the hardware store was actually closing because of competition from a nearby Home Depot, not because of the crime and worsening neighborhood conditions cited by the owner.

But that owner, Denny Lochner, countered that view to me in an emphatic email Wednesday.

“Mayor Soglin is wrong to state that retail competition put us out of business. Home Depot has been here for 12 to 15 years,” he wrote.

“Our sales dipped slightly the first year they opened and increased almost every year after that. Our biggest sales years were after they opened!”

He also wrote: “The competition has not significantly changed in five years, but our sales have dropped about 40 percent. Other hardware stores have told us customers come to their store with our circulars and ask if they honor the prices because they will not go to the Meadowood neighborhood anymore.

“Let's be clear. They do not say they will not go to Meadowood Ace, they say they will not go to that part of town any more. If it was Home Depot taking our customers, why are they showing up at another hardware store?”

Lochner said customers have told him the issue is indeed the neighborhood: “They all say they regret our closing and agree the reason is the neighborhood not the store itself or the competition.”

He also disputes Soglin’s assertion that the city has actually fixed problems in other neighborhoods.

“The city did not fix the problem in other areas; they relocated it and a new problem area was born. Years ago, before it reached this point, Madison police officers told me to expect the change because it was the strategy in solving the" problem with bad neighborhoods.

(A final point: I incorrectly reported the hardware store had closed; Lochner said an out-of-business sale will last another month. I regret the error.)

Paul Fanlund is editor and executive publisher of The Capital Times. A longtime Madisonian, he was a State Journal reporter and editor before becoming a vice president of Madison Newspapers. He joined the Cap Times in 2006.

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(9) comments

JhQnb

We've lived in the neighborhood for just over a year. I AM one of those homeowners you're talking about and I don't feel safe, nor will my property value decline. My reasons for not shopping at the store have NOTHING to do with feeling unsafe or the neighborhood. We run and bike through the neighborhood daily and we shop at the Walgreens, Chinese Restaurant and Library which are in the same complex. I've walked up there at night and never felt unsafe.

The store closes at 4:00 on a Sunday and 7:00 on a weeknight most the time. Everything in there is 10-20% more expensive than Dorns or Home Depot, both of which are within 2 miles. Business slowed down when the economy slowed down, that is not a surprise. Why would he lie about the reasons for his slide in business? Because he doesn't want to admit that he couldn't compete with increased competition. It's easier to scapegoat something else. How did this one store somehow the rallying cry for people who don't live nearby to bash my neighborhood?

Stop trying to make the neighborhood a scapegoat for your business decisions Mr. Lochner.

wiprof

I drive through that neighborhood on my way to work and used to shop at the hardware store, walgreens and the cleaners, but not anymore. I began getting leery when gangs of thuggish kids began hanging out using foul language. Roving crowds mill about in the streets and curse cars that want to get by. One day, a bunch of them were leaning against my car when I came out of Walgreens and spat and swore at me when I asked them to move away. Haven't been back since that encounter.

Whazzat

Laudmauth - great suggestion for giving the mayor an accurate assessment of the Meadowood neighborhood. I feel bad for homeowners who are seeing their home values decline and, more importantly, a dangerous neighborhood to raise their families. I would hope that any city that believes they need to idiversify their neighborhoods with section 8 housing take a hard look at Madison. The result is quite clear - we don't have thugs and punks in just one section of town - we have them everywhere.

Shorety

Yeah, why would the guy lie and make statements that it was the deteriorating neighborhood? What would he gain by that? It seems more likely that he is regretfully telling the truth. Why is the mayor so defensive about it? Because it's not PC? It really saddens me that these neighborhoods become dangerous one by one. It's not that they're poor or rundown, it's that's they're dangerous. There is no excuse for that.

Lacey
Lacey

The neighborhood HAS gone down hill......we moved from that area 10 years ago because we were seeing the change at that time and things were being stolen from our yard on a repeated basis. Loreen Drive was having problems back then and I would not allow our kids to walk to school using that street. The Lochner's had a great business, even after Home Depot came around, so don't put the blame on Home Depot or the Lochner's. I don't blame them one bit for choosing to close their business, as that area of the city has steadily seen changes that are NOT for the better.

Laudmauth

Hizzoner the Mayor should get his prescriptions filled at that Walgreens. He should park in the parking lot. He should drop off his dry cleaning at Best Dry Cleaning. A couple of actual, in-person, boots-on-the-ground visits and he will be hummng a different tune.

arbutus

What is the solution for this "problem area"? It is dangerous to live or visit there, and seems to be getting worse. My son owns a home there, but its value has gone down so much he wouldn't be able to afford to sell if he wanted to.

motherlode
motherlode

Mayor Soglin:
You are wrong here. We need to stop passing the buck.
These are not isolated crimes that
happen everywhere, they are happening right here, and we must attend to them.

Thewiscokid
Thewiscokid

I lived in the Meadowood area for five years. I moved away about a year ago after things had gotten so bad that I didn't feel it was safe for me and my family. I used to go to the Ace Hardware all the time for goods and feel bad that things got so out of hand that they have to close but I understand why they would want to leave. Something NEEDS to be done and relocating the problem doesn't solve the problem. I love Madison and everything it has to offer but when a neighborhood gets that out of hand that its residents have to move away and businesses need to close it shouldn't be covered up by saying competition forced it. Please, address the problem Mr. Mayor.

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