Standing next to a grill outside the Weakley-Watson Ace Hardware store in Brownwood Saturday morning, Tim Jacobs made an observation.
    “There’s nothing like ribs for breakfast,” Jacobs said as a side of ribs cooked on the pellet-fed, electric-powered Traeger grill.
    The store, at 1414 Austin Ave., had been open for less than an hour on the sunny Saturday morning, and activity was already brisk as the second day of a three-day grand reopening celebration began. Jacobs cheerfully greeted customers as they approached the front door and slowed to take in the grills and other merchandise on the store’s front porch.
     The reopening celebration began Friday and ends Sunday.
    “Smells good already,” a woman said as she walked past Jacobs as Traeger grill did its job.
    The three-day fete, featuring sales, drawings, demonstrations and food, is billed as Weakley-Watson’s official re-grand opening as Ace Hardware’s 5,000th store. The celebration brought swarms of customers who have roamed the store, exchanged conversations among themselves and with store employees and stood in line to make purchases.
    The past 13 months have been eventful for the 141-year-old business. In July 2016, with the Blagg family still in ownership, Weakley-Watson celebrated the 140th anniversary of its 1876 founding.
    But just seven months later — in February 2017 — then-Weakley-Watson president Mike Blagg announced the store’s pending closure as Blagg and his brothers approached retirement age.
    A few weeks later, the Blagg and Jacobs families announced the store would be staying open: the Jacobs family had purchased the historic business.
    Tim Jacobs, who also owns Jacobs Family Pharmacy, and his son Weston, who is the store manager, displayed megawatt enthusiasm when the family took ownersship of the business on March 1.
    Throughout this weekend’s grand reopening, their enthusiasm seems to just grow stronger.
    “Today is more like us not crossing the finish line,” Tim Jacobs said. “We’re on that home stretch. We pushed really hard to get to the point that we’re ready to show the community what all we have now, what we’ve done to the store, what all is going on here.
    “We have the good things from the old. We have the employees that have been here forever. We have the items that people say ‘hey, they’re the only ones in town that have it.’ We’ve added a lot of new lines like the Traeger grill and the Big Green Egg, and some of the expanded Weber grills. The garden center’s coming this fall.”
    Jacobs said he’d loved Weakley-Watson long before his family bought it. As a frequent customer, he knew the contents of every aisle and the location of all of the merchandise.
    “It’s been a lot to learn, but the employees that have been here for so long have guided us through, and that’s one of the things that separates us — these people are experts,” Jacobs said.
    “The more it gets into what we feel like has our family brand on it, the more we’re excited about it. We love how our pharmacy works and operates and serves the community. We’re loving how this has come to be just full of merchandise. It’s been a lot of work but it’s sweat equity. We’re just enjoying the work.”
    Weston Jacobs agreed with his father that the family has no regrets about buying the business. “I love it more every day,” the younger Jacobs said. “I’d never done hardware or retail before this. I didn’t know what I was really getting in to.
    “Every day I learn something new. I love dealing with the people of Brownwood. I love being around them. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s better every day.”
    Jacobs, noting the significance of the “huge weekend” of the reopening, said it’s big news in Brownwood when a store closes, as Weakley-Watson was about to do in February.
    “People get pretty upset and I was really upset when I heard about it,” Jacobs said, referring to the Blagg family’s announcement that the business would be closing.
    James Moore, Ace Hardware district manager based in Lubbock, said Weakley-Watson’s status as Ace’s 5,000th store is a nice milestone for the company and a nice partnership between Ace and the Jacobs family.
    “We’ve had a great weekend down here with a lot of community involvement,” Moore said.
    It’s up to the customers to say if they like the store, Moore said. “What I’m receiving is a lot of ‘this looks great,’” Moore said. “We did a project inside where we brought in all new merchandise and redid the layout so it’s a little more open space in there.
    “The community is telling us ‘we’re glad Ace is here. We’re glad Weakley-Watson is still in business after 140 years, which is a great story.”