Ace Hardware opens in Horizon West

Walter and Patti Toole have opened their 13th store in Central Florida and already are planning for a 14th in Windermere.

Walter Toole and his wife, Patti, have opened their 13th Ace Hardware.
Walter Toole and his wife, Patti, have opened their 13th Ace Hardware.
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Businessman Walter Toole has done it again. He and his wife, Patti, have opened a Toole’s Ace Hardware store in another Central Florida community. The new store is located in the Hamlin area of Horizon West, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday, Feb. 27, to officially welcome the hardware store to the community.

His reason for opening in that area of West Orange County was simple: There was no other hardware store in the vicinity.

“Our roots have been in Winter Garden since 1983, and we knew that there was opportunity for growth in the Hamlin community,” Toole said. “We wanted to deliver a neighborhood hardware store that was focused on serving the Hamlin and surrounding Horizon West community.”

This location features a larger store than the original one on South Dillard Street in Winter Garden, with 10,000 square feet of space inside plus a 3,000-square-foot garden section. It sells everything the other Ace Hardware stores have available — hardware; paint; home-improvement products; and services such as key cutting and propane refill — but it also has merchandise not found at the other locations, including vacuum cleaners and German kitchen knives, as well as a bigger selection of plants.

A grand-opening sale takes place this weekend, March 1 through 3.

A special event is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and vendors from grill and tool companies will be on hand to talk to customers; food vendors also will be giving out free samples. The first 100 customers will receive an Ace Hardware swag bag, and free five-gallon buckets will be handed out while supplies last. What’s more, almost everything that can fit in the bucket will be discounted 20%.

According to marketing manager Susan Stratton, the closest hardware stores also are owned by the Tooles — in Winter Garden and on Hartwood Marsh Road at Highway 27 in Clermont.

Toole’s Ace Hardware is open and ready to serve the Hamlin community in Horizon West.

Rounding out their 13 stores are a second one in Clermont, five in Orlando and one each in Groveland, Maitland, Winter Park and Oviedo.

Another store is in the construction phase in downtown Windermere.

Toole attributes his continued to success to his devoted team members and his loyal customers.

“We have a terrific team of career employees that are passionate about delivering our Ace brand promise to our customers,” he said. “We do this every day, and we believe we will continue to be successful if we stay focused on the customer service experience. This has been our passion for the last 40 years.”


The Tooles got their start with the local hardware store in 1983 when they bought Bray Hardware from Evelyn Bray Lease. Her father, George W. “Buttles” Bray, and his brother-in-law, M.Y. McMillan, founded McMillan-Bray Hardware Company on West Plant Street in 1906.

After several years, Bray sold his interest to McMillan, who continued in the hardware business until he sold out to the Joseph Bumby Hardware Co.

In 1920, Bray, who had been working in the fruit and vegetable brokerage business, returned to the tool industry and opened Bray Hardware Company.

During World War II, Bray’s wife assisted him in the store. When he died in 1949, his children, George Bray Jr. and Evelyn Bray Lease, took over the family business.

A year after the Tooles purchased Bray Hardware, the business joined Ace Hardware. As more locations were opened, all of the stores became part of the Toole’s Ace Hardware chain of stores.

The West Orange Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors helped cut the ribbon on the store in Hamlin.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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