Joe Italiano: An Ace Retires

Sure, you can get a snow shovel, light bulb or roach motel on the internet.

But you can’t get it immediately — right now, the moment you need it.

You can’t handle the merchandise, to choose  exactly the right product.

You can’t get the expert advice — and no up-selling — from knowledgeable, friendly folks you find at your local hardware store.

That’s why so many Westporters flock to Crossroads Ace Hardware.

Ace is the place for all that — plus the old-fashioned, all-that’s-missing-is-the-pot-bellied-stove atmosphere, courtesy of owner Jimmy Izzo and his dad, AJ.

For nearly 30 years, Joe Italiano has made Crossroads Hardware special too. But January 28 is his last day in the small-but-crammed-to-the-gills store that’s as beloved as its strip mall neighbor, Coffee An’.

Joe Italiano

Joe Italiano

Crossroads is Joe’s last stop, in a long career in the business. The Westchester native worked in Ridgefield and Danbury before Paul Taylor — owner of Weston Hardware, where he worked in the 1960s — told AJ to call Joe for his new store, on the site of the old North Main Garage.

Crossroads Ace Hardware opened in October 1989. Joe’s been there all that time.

In fact, very quietly — but with insights gained from decades of experience — he’s helped make it what it is.

Joe prefers to talk about what he’s gotten out of the place.

“Over the years I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with a lot of nice people,” he says. “The customers are great, and AJ and Jimmy treated me better than well.”

He’s done everything from make keys — you can’t do that on the internet — to repair a completely shattered antique glass lamp.

Customer service is important to the Izzos — and to Joe. “We try our best to give them what they ask for,” he says. “We won’t do a job if we can’t do it right, and reasonably.”

Some customers, of course, think that “reasonably” means “almost free.”

“It costs us to keep merchandise on the shelves,” Joe notes. “On the internet, they have a big warehouse and they shove it in boxes, then out the door.”

But if customers keep going to the internet, he adds, “we won’t be here to serve the public.”

Crossroads Ace Hardware, where customer service -- and Joe Italiano -- are kings.

Crossroads Ace Hardware is a favorite Westport place.

Retirement will give Joe time to catch up on projects he’s got at home; spend time with his wife, who retired 2 years ago, and travel. He looks forward to attending his grandkids’ functions on Saturdays — something he’s never been able to do.

He’ll miss the “interaction with all the people.” He will not miss driving between work and home — Danbury, on the New Fairfield line – in snow.

Meanwhile, thousands of loyal customers will miss Joe Italiano. Ace will still be the place.

It just won’t be the same without him.

19 responses to “Joe Italiano: An Ace Retires

  1. Joe – my wife and I will miss you. Your guidance and help and support is invaluable. We wish you the best as you spend time with your family. I do hope everyone realizes the value of service at a merchant like Crossroads!

  2. yet again thanks Dan, people wouldnt know if wasnt for you. those guys at Ace are off the charts friendly and hugely helpful always. It is what makes Westport special, places and people like them.

  3. Best to you in retirement Joe. You have been wonderful!

  4. Say it isn’t so Joe! If I am trying to fix something, I ask Joe. If I need to hire someone to fix it for me, I ask Joe. I worked in a hardware store in high school and had a boss named Joe. Both were men of character that you looked to for advice and you valued their friendship. Joe- I will miss you. Lou Mall

  5. Thank you Dan for doing this nice feature on Joe. Our family has been blessed to have Joe not only as our store manager, but part of our family as well. The best compliment I could give Joe is he treated the store as if it was his own. He cared not only about Crossroads Ace Hardware, but his customers (many who became friends over the years) and this community as well. Be a school project, a home project, a gift idea, or simple brainstorming, Joe was always there. You always here today “everyone is replaceable”. Joe is one of those rare people who you simply don’t replace. The knowledge, dedication, and loyalty is rare in today’s world. Will miss him and only wish him the best in enjoying his weekends with his family. It’s been a great ride and pleasure to work and learn from Joe. Again, Thanks Dan for acknowledging Joe and his wonderful career with Crossroads Ace.

  6. Joe is one of the great ones! A gem of a man! They just don’t build them like Joe anymore! Jimmy is correct when he say Joe is ” one of the rare people you simply don’t replace.” He is one of the most knowledgable men I know when it comes to finding a solution to a not so common household problem and always did it with a smile! Best to you Joe and thanks for all you have for us Westporters!

  7. lorraine harrison

    Thank you Joe for all your help.. Have a great retirement! you cannot be replaced…

  8. Joe indeed will be missed. From a personal standpoint he has fixed so many lamps in our house and he is the first person I think of when faced with a dilemma having anything to do with home repairs. Jimmy Izzo was spot on when he said Joe “treated the store like it was his own”. For the first several years of its existence, I, assumed Joe was a co-owner.

    All the best, Joe. You have more than earned some time off and your thoughtful and engaging manner helped make Westport feel like a small town.

  9. Dear Joe, I wish you and your family a happy retirement, weekends free now, and time to travel, but I must tell you that you will be sorely missed. I will miss your friendly face and your expert advice. I wish I could have seen you on your last day at Ace to tell you in person how very wonderful the past 20 or so years of knowing you has meant to me and so many others. All the best on your new chapter in life.

    • Nice thoughts, Linda! As noted in the story though, Joe’s last day is this Saturday – January 28. You still have a few days to see him!

  10. Pam Barkentin

    Hey Joe, have a great retirement! You will be missed! Thanks for all the help you’ve given our family over the many years we’ve known you. Jackson learned so much when he worked for you! Take it easy, and we hope we see you around sometimes!

  11. I am certainly going to miss Joe. I wish him well in his retirement…

  12. Dolores Bacharach

    After Welch’s Hardware on Main St closed, Izzo’s (we called it Izzo’s, not Crossroads became our hardware store.My husband Jim and our neighbor Phil Woodruff would head down to get whatever was needed and how to use it for the week-end chores. Then my neighbor, Marylou and I became widows. Each time I’d go;stop at the counter asking for something, soon Joe would appear from downstairs or from around the aisle. “Let me see what you’ve got there” and I and it would be taken care of. Light bulbs, hose washers, grass seed, smoke alarms, snow melt.
    I never left without Joe saying..”If you need help with that, let me know.”
    Joe is a big man in so many ways. He didn’t give just good service. He gave care and concern. Blessings, Joe on this new time in your life from another appreciative customer.

  13. Joe you will be missed by so many people it will not be the same without you.

  14. Lisa Bevilacqua

    Joe all the best in your retirement. Thank you for being such a good friend to Morrie and such a help to me these past few years. Our lunches at Coffee An always ended with a walk through the store and you always took the time to catch up on our lives. Oh yes your amazing knowledge and expertise in all things hardware are unsurpassed ! Enjoy your time with family and friends and we will miss you dearly.

  15. Brian E. Stern

    Joe, thanks for everything over the past 30 years. You saved me many times.
    Have the greatest retirement ever, since you deserve it.
    Cheers, Brian.

  16. Viveca Van Bladel

    Joe has guided me through all my home improvement projects with a smile, wisdom and patience. He knows everything about everything, and I will miss him very much. Thanks for everything Joe. Ted and I wish you a super retirement!

  17. K.F. Spearen . Dba . Dr Funky Metal

    Joe you will be missed by many .. Thank you for all of your help and the good laughs , during the many years of me knowing you . Enjoy your Retirement . You Deserve It …

  18. Say it ain’t so! Congratulations Joe ! We will miss you, but will think of you every time we walk into the store. Best from the family – you’ve taught us ALL a lot about hardware!