Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW The national search for one lucky entrepreneur who will win an Ace Hardware store valued at $1 million, hits the East Longmeadow Rocky's Ace Hardware store at noon this Tuesday.
As the official spokesman of this entrepreneurial challenge, season one winner of "The Apprentice," Bill Rancic, will be on hand to greet applicants and sign copies of his new book, "Beyond the Lemonade Stand."
Frank F. Chiera, director of marketing for Rocky's Ace Hardware said that they are gearing up for "quite an event."
At 11:30 a.m., the contest's 45-foot luxury motor coach will be pulling into the Center Village parking lot carrying Bill Rancic. Contest staff will be taking applications, vendors will be posted in and outside of the store to offer demonstrations and activities as Romito's, Spoletos and Starbucks share free samples with the crowd.
The first 200 people to arrive will receive a $10 gift card for the store.
"We not only hope that the winner will be local but if that did happen, all of us would get behind that person," Chiera said. "If the winner was a Western Mass resident, we would totally embrace that and give them any support they needed to make them successful."
This stop of the Dream Ace contest is number 11 of 21 stops the tour buses and spokespeople will make on the eastern half of the country alone. More than 1,000 people have already entered into the reality-television-style competition in which the contestant's skills, knowledge, wit and strategic business plans will be pitted against one another.
One finalist from each of the 50 states will eventually be selected as finalists, one of whom will become the proud owner of a new Ace Hardware store in Dallas Texas on June 30, a prize valued at $1 million.
Although the contest is not being taped for television, many national news outlets are covering the event weekly, including "The Today Show."
"Western Massachusetts was originally not one of the tour's stops but we said 'hey, this is a great area full of entrepreneurs,'" Chiera said.
He added that Rocky's Ace Hardware began in this same entrepreneurial spirit when the first shop was founded in 1926 in a 50 square-foot storefront in downtown Springfield.
Helping to promote the contest while on tour and later to test the contestants will be spokesmen Bill Rancic and Lou Manfredini, the company's "Helpful Hardware Man."
Before winning season one's "The Apprentice," Rancic began the multi-million dollar company, www.cigarsaroundtheworld.com, in his studio apartment. Rancic later was elected to take charge of the construction of the Trump Tower Chicago in his native Chicago, Illinois.
Manfredini is a self-made success story in the home improvement industry and a nationally respected home improvement expert.
"Lou Manfredini is the Bob Veila of the West Coast," Chiera said of Ace Hardware's "Helpful Hardware Man."
This event will take place at noon this Tuesday in the parking lot of Rocky's Ace Hardware in East Longmeadow, 28 North Main Street. For more contest information or to apply, visit www.dreamacehardware.com.