Longtime business in downtown Shelton shuts its doors

A mainstay of Shelton’s downtown retail district has closed.

Carroll’s Home Improvement Centre, a combined hardware, appliance and lumber store on Howe Avenue, was cleared of all merchandise in the past week or so and now is empty.

The store was in business for six decades, serving everyone from the do-it-yourself homeowner looking for a hammer or gallon of paint to the professional contractor seeking building materials or mason supplies.

“It was a well-respected business in downtown Shelton for many years,” said James Ryan, president of the Shelton Economic Development Corp., an entity that focuses on revitalizing the city’s central business district.

“They had whatever you needed and did contracting as well,” said Ryan, who noted that customers tend to get an added level of expertise when dealing with a locally owned business such as Carroll’s rather than a national chain store.

There is no sign on the store at 320 Howe Ave. indicating exactly what has happened with the business, but the phone number is no longer working and the website domain has expired.

'Lumber, Kitchens, Siding, Windows'

For many local residents, Carroll’s was a business landmark — with its extensive windows in front and large stand-alone sign near Hill Street, indicating it was established in 1954.

On one side of the building, in a blue-and-white motif used throughout the store structure, large letters highlight that the store offered “Lumber, Kitchens, Siding, Windows.”

The store was part of the Do It Best co-operative, which includes about 3,800 hardware stores and related businesses in the United States and overseas. Carroll’s has been removed from the Do It Best website’s store locator.

The business was operated by the Carroll family for many years, but it is believed the store changed hands about a decade ago. Kenneth Wasko is listed as the company’s president in some online material.

Potential for parcel

The 0.6-acre parcel, on Howe Avenue between Hill and Cornell streets, has been on the real estate market for a while.

It currently is listed for sale or lease with Arnold Peck’s Commercial World, with a purchase asking price of $699,000.

According to the online real estate listing, the building is about 8,400 square feet in size and was constructed in 1972. It includes some off-street parking.

While anytime a longtime business such as Carroll’s Home Improvement closes its doors is a sad occasion, Ryan said, having such a unique piece of real estate available could be seen as an opportunity.

“It’s a prime piece of real estate in downtown,” Ryan said. “It’s on Howe Avenue and it’s nicely sized. It has many possibilities.”

Other business activity downtown

Bill Purcell, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce president, said he didn’t know the owners of Carroll’s Home Improvement but it’s always unfortunate when a local store goes out of business.

“We’ve certainly had our share of that in the Valley, like everywhere else,” Purcell said.

But Purcell said new businesses continue to open in Shelton’s central business corridor, and on Monday he was visiting two such locations on Howe Avenue — a cake bakery and a theme party venue store.

Offered installation and delivery

Carroll’s had promoted itself as “The Total Service Home Center,” noting in advertising material that it could install products and also offered “fast, efficient delivery from ground to rooftop.”

According to its advertising, Carroll’s sold lumber, hardware, Benjamin Moore paint, millwork, building materials, appliances, floor coverings, and mason supplies.

Many small hardware stores have struggled to survive in an era of big-box competitors. In recent years, Carroll’s had to compete with a Home Depot nearby in downtown Derby and a Lowe’s not much farther away in Derby, as well as a Wal-Mart in Shelton.

According to the Connecticut Better Business Bureau, Carroll’s Home Improvement was in good standing, although it wasn’t a BBB member. The BBB website does not mention any complaints or concerns about the business.