The shooting death of a beloved hardware store owner last summer rocked Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood. Andres Cruz, who was 58, had owned AC Hardware for 20 years before being killed in what investigators say was a botched robbery attempt. Cruz’s death and the store's closing left an emotional hole in the community. Six months later, Cruz’s family decided to reopen the store.

Noelia Cruz smiled and laughed as she gave me a tour of AC Hardware on Tremont Street.

“Well, this is the front. This is like where you get the paint station … pick your colors. This is like the gardening, all the tools, the dirt. Sometimes in the winter, it’s the salt and the shades, and then we come down here. We only have two aisles though,” Cruz explained.

The ground level shop that her father opened after working for years in other stores has little bit of everything on the shelves. In fact, Noelia is doing inventory and has counted 400 items just in the first aisle.

In the back, Andres kept a toaster oven where he would cook foods from his native Puerto Rico.

“He used to cook in here, too. He was an awesome cook. He used to cook rice beans and everything in here. You can see he got all the seasonings and everything, fridge, microwave,” Noelia said.

Noelia often talks about her father in present tense even though he’s been gone since last July. Investigators say three men ran into the store and tried to rob him. Andres Cruz was shot and killed during the struggle as he was defending the store. Noelia remembers that warm summer day.

“I was on my way to the pool when I heard the news, and I ran over here. I couldn’t believe it. It was crazy. All the streets were blocked off. I couldn’t get even close. I had to go all over Boston to get here,” she said.

Noelia and her family were devastated but grateful for the witnesses who led Boston Police to the trio, who have been charged with murder. The tight-knit Mission Hill community felt a huge loss of the store owner who let customers buy on credit. The future of the store was unclear until one day Noelia decided the best way to honor his legacy was the do what he loved. So at the beginning of this year she reopened AC Hardware.

Customers like Krishna Desai said they are glad the store has reopened.

“It makes me understand that like local shops are way more tailoring towards like the people that live here in the community,” Desai said. “It’s crucial to have a store like this where you can just come in and get whatever you need really quick and then go back to doing your day.”

Sometimes customers can’t just go back to their day. They stay and reminisce a while.

“There [are] customers that come in here, and they come sad. You know, their eyes water. I can’t blame them. I know they feel bad sometimes because they make me tear up a little bit,” Noelia said.

Noelia runs the store just like her father did. She has a notebook to take names of customers who are a few dollars short. She stays open late and works weekends, all with her father’s stout frame and his huge smile in mind.

“It’s with his guidance because I feel him here,” she said.

The neighbors who came to the store when Andres Cruz was alive seem to be coming back. On this day there was a steady stream of customers.