Biz Buzz: Miner’s hardware is open in SLO

After several hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of improvements, Miner’s Ace Hardware has opened in the former Pacific Home Improvement Center at 2034 Santa Barbara St. in San Luis Obispo.

It is the seventh location for the hardware and lumber store and the second to open within the year in the county, after opening a store in Nipomo in October.

Company president Paul Filice said the company was fortunate to be able to expand in spite of the downturn in building construction in the county.

Their secret, in addition to having multiple locations that make the stores convenient across the county, customer loyalty and their customer service, is that Miner’s is in the fix-it and repair business, not the home-building business.

“It’s an interesting market,” Filice said. “People aren’t buying and selling their homes right now. They’re doing little projects to fix up the homes they’re living in now.”

Business has not necessarily gone up — although revenue has increased with new stores — but it has remained constant, which he considers a victory during a recession.

Filice would not disclose company revenue. Miner’s has about 260 employees, making it one of the largest private employers in the county. Forty are now working at the new location, 10 of whom were retained from the earlier hardware store.

While they have been in discussions with property owner Rob Rossi to buy the location, they have opted for a long-term 20-year lease, with a couple of options to buy built into the contract, Filice said.

“We intend to be there a long time either way,” he said.

The family-owned and operated business has been in the county since it opened its first store in 1956. The company’s first employee, Wally Lewis, still works at that store.

— Melanie Cleveland

Theater fundraising leader resigns

Mary Meserve-Miller, whose Legends shows have become a top-selling staple of the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre for the past decade, has resigned as development director after 12 years.

The departure marks an end to the theater’s Legends shows, which represented a major fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

Meserve-Miller, who wrote and directed the annual shows, plans to take the series to Sorcerer Productions, a local theater company launched by actor and director Ryan Cordero.

Meserve-Miller declined to comment on her resignation.

Her Legends series, launched in 1999, typically honors one artist with biographical stories weaved in between song and dance numbers.

The shows, which usually sell out, have featured tributes to performers such as Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland and Roy Orbison. The most recent show, a tribute to Frank Sinatra, raised $88,000, breaking previous Legends records.

Kevin Harris, the theater’s managing artistic director, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Little Theatre is one of the oldest continuously running community theaters in the country, having opened in 1942 with “Blithe Spirit.”

Its next show, “Sherlock’s Last Case,” opens Friday and runs through June 20. A theater fundraiser, “Shimmy Shake Shine!” opens in July.

The first Legends show with Sorcerer Productions — a Best of the Legends show — is slated to open at the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande in February.

Meserve-Miller said she would volunteer for Sorcerer as development and marketing director while she looks for a new job.

— Patrick S. Pemberton