HOPEWELL JUNCTION, N.Y. - One customer walked up to Carrie Tell and didn't say anything - then just hugged the long-absent store owner.
Yes, the return of William Tell True Value Hardware to Hopewell Junction is a big deal.
The store - one of the few old-fashioned hardware stores in Dutchess County, and in business since 1982 - was destroyed in a devastating fire in May of 2015, and owners Carrie and David Tell have been fighting to get the store up and running again ever since.
Recently the community got some good news, learning that William Tell (named after David's brother William) would re-open in the Acme Unity Plaza in Hopewell on Dec. 30.
How much did Hopewell miss the store that had cramped, crowded aisles, merchandise often stacked to the ceiling, helpful workers scattered around the store, and carried pretty much anything under the sun you were looking for?
"This community missed it big time," Walter Gutshall of Hopewell told Daily Voice. "Everyone wanted to know - 'where's my hardware store?' It's always been the go-to place, and the people are very friendly."
Carrie Tell said the outpouring of love the community has shown for the store's return has been overwhelming.
"One customer came in very quiet, and then just hugged me," Tell said. "It's been fabulous. We feel appreciated by the community, and we're glad to be back. It's been a long time.
"People couldn't wait (for the store to reopen), and we are very grateful for the response we've gotten," she added. "We're grateful so many people have been so supportive."
Tell added that many of the store's former employees have returned to their old jobs, and customers are slowly but surely finding their way back to the new store, as word of the opening spreads.
When Daily Voice visited Wednesday afternoon, workers were busy stocking shelves all over the new store. "We're trying to carry everything we need to have," Tell said. "And if you don't see it, let us know and we'll get it."
Tell said the delay in reopening or rebuilding has been all about insurance complications. She said the current store will remain in the Unity Plaza for at least five years, but a return to the store's old location is still a possibility.