Return of the neighborhood hardware store
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In 2003, in Washington’s Logan Circle, Gina Schaefer opened what she believes was the first new neighborhood-scale hardware store in the nation’s capital in 20 years. Since then, she’s opened six more in other Washington neighborhoods, in suburban Takoma Park, Maryland, and in Baltimore—all affiliated with the Ace Hardware national co-op.
Another Washingtonian, Anne Stom, opened Annie’s Ace Hardware last February in Petworth, a District of Columbia neighborhood where in recent years there’s been housing construction near a Metro station, along with homebuyers fixing up older detached dwellings and rowhouses.
The neighborhood-scale hardware store isn’t dead after all; it was just waiting to be revived. “People flocked to big-boxes for a while,” says Stom, but “I think it’s occurring to them that what they gave up was a personal connection to the store and the people in the store, and the knowledge base.”
A neighborhood hardware store is easier to get to than a big box, Stom says, and it’s likely to be staffed by “someone who’s lived in one of these old houses for 20 years” and knows what’s needed. Stom’s store has about 6,000 sq. ft. of retail space, plus another 1,000 sq. ft. for its office and glass-cutting/window screen