LOGAN SQUARE — Less than two months after a longtime Latino business closed up shop, a new one is opening in its place.
Rey’s Tools and Supplies moved into 3738 W. Fullerton Ave. in July and had a soft opening Aug. 12. The store plans to celebrate with a grand opening sometime in September, once all the finishing touches are in place.
Up until the end of June, the building was home to Victoria’s Brides, a quinceañera shop that was in the neighborhood for 16 years.
Reynaldo Salcedo is the man behind Rey’s Tools and Supplies. He is excited to keep a Latino presence in the neighborhood, despite its changing demographics. Originally from Peru, Salcedo has lived in Chicago for 20 years and currently lives in Avondale.
“A lot of people that buy from me are Latinos and most of them live on the South Side,” Salcedo said.
He said he wanted to create a business near his house that was also accessible by his clients without going too far South. And considering tools are “hot items for robberies,” he said he wanted a safe neighborhood to open his business. Logan Square’s Fullerton strip, which is full of longtime Latino-owned businesses, proved a good fit, he said.
“This business is going to bring Latinos like crazy,” he said. “It is probably the people that want to save money — every dollar counts.”
Even though most of his clientele speaks Spanish, he hopes his business will attract all kinds of people from near and far, old and new. Because in terms of tools, what he is doing is unique, he said.
His business model leans on liquidations from big companies that sell items for cheap prices due to overstock or business closures. He said there is a huge market for tools and his prices are considerably lower than big box retailers like Home Depot.
“There you can get a tool for $130, you can get it here for $80,” Salcedo said.
Screwdrivers, drills, floor grinders, tool boxes and light fixtures are just some of the many construction items Rey’s Tools and Supplies carries. The store is only about 50 percent full of inventory, but quickly growing. He sells some used tools as well, at deep discounts.
He prides himself on having better deals than his competitors, including pawn shops — and apart from big tool stores such as Ace Hardware and Home Depot, the neighborhood lacks affordable and local tool stores.
Rey’s Tools is Salcedo’s first foray in owning a physical store but he is no stranger to the industry. He has been selling goods online for years and taught himself all about tools after his friend, a contractor, helped him rehab his home in 2014.
Currently, Salcedo isn’t raking in the dough, but as his inventory grows and he is able to expand and sell appliances, he envisions his business will be profitable.
“Right now, as long as I pay the rent and I got some money to survive, I am good,” he said. “If I have to work at night doing Uber, I am going to do it.”
Salcedo said his plans for opening the store moved faster than he had anticipated. He originally was going to wait to open until he had more merchandise but said his wife encouraged him to open sooner than later and start slow. That got him up and moving, he said.
“One day I said, ‘I am going to do it’ and two days later I was getting the place,” he said.
Erin Slucter, Salcedo’s wife, called him a natural-born salesman.
“It is brilliant what he is doing and getting tools from liquidations,” Slucter said. “He is willing to put in that middle man work.”
She said it was her idea to have a soft opening to get the customer base started and not rush the process. Since the store has been open, she said Salcedo has been doing well.
“It’s an anomaly to me because I don’t get tools but people get obsessed,” she said, laughing. “[But] everybody needs these things he has in the home-ownership realm.”
She also wants hopes new people coming to the gentrifying neighborhood will support local businesses.
“I want him to be able to sustain this business in a neighborhood that can knock him out quickly if he is not careful — I keep my eye on that,” she said.
The duo hopes to buy the building at some point, and offer contract work in construction to clients as part of his business.
“I want to be here to stay,” he said. “If you want to survive, you have to buy, otherwise anyone can come and kick you out.”
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.