Dealer Profiles

Frager’s Hardware Turns 100!

By Chris Jensen

Frager’s Hardware, one of the newest members of The Hardware Connection Century Club, held a month-long celebration in September to mark its 100th anniversary. It featured giveaways, custom-made products for staff and customers, daily posts on social media to lift up neighboring small businesses and fundraisers to support local non-profits.

Frager’s Hardware is the second-oldest hardware store operating in Washington, D.C., behind W.S. Jenks & Son, which was founded in 1866.

Theodore Ammon shows off the 100th anniversary shirts for sale.
Theodore Ammon shows off the 100th anniversary shirts for sale.»
Zinia Brown (left) and Regina Whitaker hold the 100th anniversary Frager’s buttons worn by staff throughout the celebration month, along with the 100-year masks.
Zinia Brown (left) and Regina Whitaker hold the 100th anniversary Frager’s buttons worn by staff throughout the celebration month, along with the 100-year masks.»
They gave away 100 two-packs of chocolate-covered Frager’s Oreo cookies custom-made locally in Capitol Hill by The Capital Candy Jar.
They gave away 100 two-packs of chocolate-covered Frager’s Oreo cookies custom-made locally in Capitol Hill by The Capital Candy Jar.»

Frank Frager was a Russian Jewish immigrant who came to Ellis Island, sold ice cream cones out of a cart, worked at a lumberyard and became such a skilled cabinet-maker that he crafted many of the display cases in the original Smithsonian Museum, according to a Washington Post article. In 1920, he borrowed $5,000 and opened a hardware store that would become a Capitol Hill institution.

Frager’s is now owned by Gina Schaefer and Marc Friedman of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, who bought the historic business in 2017, four years after a devastating fire had made the store’s future look bleak.

At the age of 5, Edward Frager (shown here) began living with his grandfather Frank in an apartment above the store he founded. Edward would become the third generation of the family to work at Frager’s, sweeping the floor for $1 a day.
At the age of 5, Edward Frager (shown here) began living with his grandfather Frank in an apartment above the store he founded. Edward would become the third generation of the family to work at Frager’s, sweeping the floor for $1 a day.»
Frager’s partnered with Capitol Hill’s Valor Brewpub to name a beer in honor of their centennial celebration. Eleven15 represents the store’s old and current address at 1115 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Fifty cents of every draft purchased through October 31 benefitted the Frager’s Fund in support of 12 local non-profits.
Frager’s partnered with Capitol Hill’s Valor Brewpub to name a beer in honor of their centennial celebration. Eleven15 represents the store’s old and current address at 1115 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Fifty cents of every draft purchased through October 31 benefitted the Frager’s Fund in support of 12 local non-profits.»
Eric Crowder wears a Frager’s 100th year face mask in front of the 100-year banner calling attention to Frager’s centennial celebration.
Eric Crowder wears a Frager’s 100th year face mask in front of the 100-year banner calling attention to Frager’s centennial celebration.»

While the COVID-19 pandemic dashed some of their plans to commemorate the store’s centennial anniversary, Frager’s found a way to celebrate its long and distinguished history while reaching out in new ways to serve the community.

“We had a lovely time promoting the store and giving a shout-out to local non-profits. Throughout the month we featured 12 new businesses and 12 local non-profits to allow them to tell their stories. That’s a reflection of how community-minded Frager’s has been for the past 100 years,” says Courtney Belew, senior manager marketing and community engagement.

Frager’s kept customers informed of the month-long centennial anniversary celebration with frequent posts on Facebook.
Frager’s kept customers informed of the month-long centennial anniversary celebration with frequent posts on Facebook.»
Restoring an old tradition, Frager’s held a photo contest to encourage customers to show off their Frager’s shirts in creative and unique locations.
Restoring an old tradition, Frager’s held a photo contest to encourage customers to show off their Frager’s shirts in creative and unique locations.»

“So many of those companies and groups are suffering during the pandemic, so we were happy to help out. This was a way for our employees and customers to connect together to lift up the community spirit,” says Belew.

All Frager’s employees wore 100-year masks throughout the month as well as 100-year shirts and buttons. “We sold a lot of 100-year t-shirts, which are available online and in-store,” Belew says.

Customers were encouraged to share stories about Frager’s, and some recalled fond shopping memories from 20 years ago. “There was a couple who had gotten married in our garden center five years ago, so we gave them a five-year anniversary gift,” Belew points out.

This is what Frager’s Hardware looked like shortly before it was destroyed by fire in June 2013.
This is what Frager’s Hardware looked like shortly before it was destroyed by fire in June 2013.»
Frager’s was destroyed by fire on June 5, 2013, likely sparked by a cigarette butt discarded by an employee. The store quickly reopened at a series of temporary locations that would be its home for the next six years.
Frager’s was destroyed by fire on June 5, 2013, likely sparked by a cigarette butt discarded by an employee. The store quickly reopened at a series of temporary locations that would be its home for the next six years.»
Marc Friedman and Gina Schaefer at the grand reopening at the store’s original location in August 2019, two years after they bought Frager’s Hardware from John Weintraub.
Marc Friedman and Gina Schaefer at the grand reopening at the store’s original location in August 2019, two years after they bought Frager’s Hardware from John Weintraub.»

The fire in 2013, which was visible for miles, reinforced how Frager’s had evolved into an integral part of the community. The Capitol Hill Community Foundation (CHCF) provided more than $130,00 to keep Frager’s staff employed and help the store relocate. When Frager’s reopened at the original location six years later, it offered a 20 percent discount to customers who donated $5 or more to CHCF.

Belew says, “It’s been really cool to revisit the store’s long history. There is something about a local hardware store that makes it the fabric of a community. Frager’s was never a neat, clean, tidy store, but customers have always had a deep connection to it.”

Sharon Crawford was one of the Frager’s Six employees featured in the store newsletter and Facebook page, the team from the “original” Frager’s.
Sharon Crawford was one of the Frager’s Six employees featured in the store newsletter and Facebook page, the team from the “original” Frager’s.»
A Frager’s 100th anniversary canvas tote, designed by a local artist, was available for purchase.
A Frager’s 100th anniversary canvas tote, designed by a local artist, was available for purchase. »

Frager’s Hardware Timeline:

1920: Fritz “Frank” Frager, a Russian Jewish immigrant, opens Frager’s Hardware at 1105 Penn Ave SE. He is later joined in the business by sons Julius and George.

1923: Frager’s relocates to a newly constructed building at 1115 Penn Ave SE.

1931: Frank Frager joins 24 other hardware retailers in Washington to create the Consolidated Hardware Stores of Washington, who would do joint advertising for two years.

1935: Frager expands into the building next door at 1113 Penn Ave SE.

1950s: Frager’s opens a second location at 2301 Penn Ave SE, which closes in 1965.

1958: Frank Frager dies of a heart attack in front of the store.

1968: Julius Frager is shot in the neck during a robbery in the store but survives.

1975: John Weintraub and Ed Copenhaver purchase the store from Julius and George Frager for $67,500.

2003: Frager’s expands by moving paint shop into the building next door.

2006: President George H. W. Bush is photographed stopping to buy dog treats.

2013: A fire guts the store on June 5. Four days later, Frager’s reopens in a pop-up shop at Eastern Market.

2013: In December, hardware and rental move into an old auto body shop two blocks from the old location.

2017: Gina Schaefer and Marc Friedman buy Frager’s Hardware.

2019: On May 3, Frager’s returns to its original store front. A grand reopening is held in August.

2020: Frager’s Hardware is voted “best hardware store” in Washington City Paper’s Best of DC issue. The store holds a month-long 100th anniversary celebration in September.


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