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New England business ventures into Pa. with Easton area hardware-store acquisition

One third-generation, family-owned business has bought another.

Cantelmi’s Forks Hardware is now under new ownership. –

Rocky’s Ace Hardware, based in Springfield, Massachusetts, bought Cantelmi’s Forks Hardware at 1805 Sullivan Trail in Forks Township from Rick Cantelmi, a third-generation business owner.

Rocco Falcone, president and CEO of Rocky’s, said he is a third-generation owner of the company. It has 33 stores in New England. The Forks Township deal marks the company’s first move into Pennsylvania.

Rocky’s bought both the building and the retail store and will continue operate it, he added.

But, Falcone said, the name of the store would change to Rocky’s Ace Hardware, since it is part of the Ace network. He plans to add an exterior sign with the new name.

While he declined to disclose the cost of the acquisition, the 20,000-square-foot-building sold for $2.6 million, according to Northampton County property records. The store has 22 employees, who will remain, Falcone said.

Falcone said he met Cantelmi, also the owner of Cantelmi’s Hardware in South Bethlehem, about a year and a half ago. Falcone said Cantelmi told him it was too much to manage both stores.

“He worked very closely with us to ensure we would continue it,” Falcone said. “It was important for him and for us to maintain the good in the store and to improve it.”

Falcone said he started thinking about acquiring the business and, last year, began having his employees “mystery-shop” there to get a sense of the shop’s feel. He noted the store was a little light on inventory but attracted a “great community.”

“Right now we are adding more inventory and in the next six months we will go through every department and update and refresh the product selection,” Falcone said.

Aside from hardware, the store includes departments in paint, lawn and garden products.

Falcone declined to provide revenue.

“It’s important for him to keep the business going,” Falcone said.

The Forks Township store opened in 2006, Cantelmi said.

“Things have changed in the marketplace and I had to do what I had to do,” Cantelmi said. “It was time for me to move on and he made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had been looking at the possibility of selling it and he was looking to move into the Pennsylvania market. I appreciate all the support that was given to me by the Forks Township community.”

Falcone said Cantelmi was interested in cutting back and maintaining focus on the Bethlehem store, which has been operating for nearly 100 years. Cantelmi said he and his son, Patrick, will continue to own and operate the Bethlehem store.

Brian Pedersen
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