Signs of compromise: True Value Hardware settles downtown

As True Value Hardware starts to make a downtown home for itself, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission have raised objections to conspicuous signage, concerned that Wiltonians who are passionate about the town's long-standing traditional character will see red.

True Value Hardware will become Wilton's much-anticipated hardware store in town center, since Keeler's on Godfrey Place closed last year

At Tuesday night's meeting, commission members and owner Tom Sato made strides in compromising a municipal and marketing dilemma, in which the town must adhere to rigid municipal statutes — established to protect Wilton's quaint commercial identity — and Mr. Sato's demands to prominently post True Value's recognizable logo.

Mr. Sato said it is necessary to effectively market the business's look in order to signal the buying power of the international chain, which has more than 5,000 independent retailers worldwide.

Commission members initially asked Mr. Sato to use pinned gold lettering instead of the official logo, which is comprised of bold cursive lettering over a bright red backdrop. Members said using flamboyant signage could be especially problematic since the hardware store will be the first business drivers will see upon entering town center on River Road.

The two parties compromised on inverting the logo's colors, setting a white backdrop to red cursive, hoping to minimize the store's visual impact. The consensus also grants True Value the right to post two signs, whereby one will be over its rear entrance in the back parking lot of Wilton River Park.

The need for an auxiliary sign is important because many customers will be loading merchandise from the rear of the store, Mr. Sato said.

The compromise also allows Mr. Sato to keep an exterior storage area in order to maintain bulk inventory outside its 7,500-square-foot space.

First Selectman Bill Brennan, among other town officials, have said they are anxious to bring a hardware store back to Wilton.

"We definitely want to see this thing work," said Planning & Zoning Chairman John Wilson, who acknowledged that driving out of town for routine hardware needs is inconvenient.