Hardware Stores: The Real Gentrification Barometer

Forget coffee shops and yoga studios — the concentration of hardware stores in D.C. is the best way to tell just how gentrified the city is. Washington City Paper’s Lydia DePillis looks into how Annie’s Ace Hardware, a new hardware store in Petworth, is a natural outgrowth of the neighborhood’s changing demographics: wealthier people who are rehabbing old homes.

Gentrification can be a double-edged sword for hardware stores, though. Some, such Adams Morgan Hardware, have been in neighborhoods for decades. But rising rents can price them out before they can potentially benefit from their new neighbors’ needs.

The stores that do best—like Annie’s and the other new hipster hardware havens—are the ones that heed the new doctrine of retail in the age of the internet: Don’t just sell products. Sell an experience.

Nobody really wants to go to Home Depot, after all. It’s overwhelming, far from most homes, and not tailored to the quirks of old buildings (Schaefer stocks the pipe fittings you’ll need to fix the plumbing in a Wardman rowhouse).

Read more at: www.washingtoncitypaper.com