DES MOINES, Iowa — Hiland Park Hardware has been a staple of the north side community for 90 years. In a bittersweet post on Oct. 12, owner Bill Wheeler announced the closing of the store.
Wheeler purchased the store from his uncle in 1986 after returning from serving in the Peace Corps. For 33 years he served the community, providing one-on-one service to everyone who walked in the door.
“It was not a life’s dream to get into hardware, but it has been a very rewarding experience,” said Wheeler.
The decision to close the store largely came from a shift in the neighborhood.
“It’s just time, I’ve been here for 33 years. We’ve had a good run and I’m getting to the point where I want to scale back a little bit,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler decided to pass the torch to someone he knew would use the space for the community, and that person is Drew Kelso.
“The neighborhood is changing, the community, and Drew I think has a good idea,” said Wheeler. “It’s not that we are creating an opening, but Drew is going to step into that opening.”
Kelso plans to turn the space into a neighborhood coffee shop, a dream he has had for about 15 years. Wheeler and Kelso have known each other for several years through their work in the community and when Wheeler approached Kelso with the idea, he was ecstatic.
“When Bill approached me that his space would be becoming available and that he would love to see that dream here, I just felt too good to be true. I had never dreamt that this space would be available and it’s perfect,” said Kelso.
Kelso hopes to inspire community engagement with his new business, something he put thought into when naming it. He revealed the coffee shop’s name for the first time.
“It’s going to be called The Slowdown. The purpose of that is I really wanted to create a space where people slow down and have community with each other,” said Kelso.
The space, which is anticipated to open in the spring, will embody an open floor concept with movable tables and chairs to make room for community events.
“One of the biggest things that is important to me is, besides my passion for coffee, is my passion for community and providing that free space,” said Kelso.
Hiland Park Hardware will remain open until they sell through their inventory. Wheeler will continue to offer screen and window repair on the south side of the building. You can find his new website here.