In New Space, Baskin’s ACE Hardware Looks To Pick Up Where Bilezikian Legacy Left Off

by Ryan Bray

ORLEANS – When it was announced last summer that the Christmas Tree Shop would be closing its doors after more than 40 years in business on South Orleans Road, the feeling of loss in the community was almost tangible. But on Monday, town officials and members of the community gathered to celebrate what has been gained in its place.

Just over three months after signing an extended lease to occupy the retail space, the staff of Baskin’s ACE Hardware celebrated a new era in the long-running family business’s history. A ribbon cutting ceremony welcomed the business to its new home, which officially opened its doors to customers last week.

The Baskin family operates five local hardware stores, the first of which opened in 1977 at 28 South Orleans Rd. But the business had outgrown the space, and when the Bilezikian family, which owns the former Christmas Tree Shop location around the corner, announced it was looking for a new tenant, co-owners Lauren Baskin and Lynn Colangione jumped at the opportunity. The business signed a 10-year lease on the property at the end of December.

“I want to thank the Bilezikian family, and I want to thank the Baskin family for having faith in Orleans and this building that’s been a landmark forever,” Judy Lindahl, executive director of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce, said Monday night. “I appreciate all of you, and I know you appreciate the Baskins keeping this a local family owned business in Orleans.”

Doreen and Charles Bilezikian founded the Christmas Tree Shop franchise and opened the Orleans location in 1982. Their son, Greg Bilezikian, has been working to find tenants for the Orleans location and several others that the family owns on the Cape since local stores were liquidated and closed last summer.

Lindahl and others, including Alisa Magnotta, executive director of Housing Assistance Corporation, and George Meservey, the town’s director of planning and community development, helped Bilezikian in promoting the benefits of Orleans to prospective businesses. But letters of support from town officials and local businesses for the Baskin family ultimately helped the business relocate around the corner to the larger space.

“Greg couldn’t turn off the noise, so he had to agree to let us come in here,” Lauren Baskin said with a laugh.

While the Christmas Tree Shop will be missed, Baskin said her family is happy to come into its new home “on the heels of a legacy” set by the store’s former tenants.

“Doreen and Charles Bilezikian developed a wonderful community store with family values and customer service,” she said. “They will be missed along New England, the South Shore, the mid-Atlantic, everywhere.”

Baskin’s 10-year lease includes an option to extend the agreement for 30 years. Outside, new ACE signs adorn the building and the parking lot. Inside, the refurbished store is completely remade aisle by aisle in the Baskin family brand.

“We had to go through the whole store in four-foot by four-foot sections and decide what products were going to go in each four-foot section,” Colangione said. “Then we ordered new products, and new products are still coming in. I feel like we’ve been running a race.”

For Baskin, who is one of five children who grew up working in her family’s business, the opening of the new store marks the continuation of a journey, not only for the Baskins, but for the many people that have supported them through the years. Loyal customers were celebrated Monday, including Dan Shea, Mike Smith and Larry Squire, who gave Lauren’s parents, Bill and Marilyn Baskin, the loan to start their first store.

“The reason you’re all here is because everybody here contributed to this in different ways,” she said. “And it takes a community to get to great places. This is our community, and we’re going to great places.”

Members of the Baskin’s ACE family, many of whom have worked with the business for more than 30 years, were also recognized at Monday’s ribbon cutting. Two in particular, Doug Dineen and Jim Morton, longtime manager of the Orleans store, were given awards celebrating their more than 40 years of service with the family.

Baskin first met Dineen, who was given the Making a Difference award, when she was in college, and their professional relationship grew when she returned to work for the family business full time.

“I always knew who Doug was,” she said. “But when I came back, I saw who Doug was, and how much he’s given to this community, and how much he means to all of us here.”

Morton, who Baskin called the business’s GOAT (greatest of all time), first started working with the Baskin family in 1981. He was awarded with the Iron Pillar award.

“When I first walked through that door, I was a little younger then, and I wasn’t thinking this was going to be a career,” he said. “But the kindness, love and support that they’ve given me throughout my whole life, both as an employee and as a person, I’ll never forget. It’s just incomparable.”

Colangione said there’s still work to be done, from stocking shelves to putting up tags around the store. But while she knew at first glimpse that it was perfect for the business, just days after opening to the public, she said the new space has lived up to all of the Baskin’s team’s expectations, and then some.

“It’s better,” she said. “It’s even better than we thought. The response from the people and the community has been awesome.”

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