The U.S. economy added 243,000 jobs in January — and 11 of those were at Annie’s Ace Hardware, a new store slated to open in Petworth on Tuesday.
The 6,500-square-foot store near Upshur Street and Georgia Avenue NW has long been a dream of owner Anne Stom, a home repair aficionado and former Labor Department project director who went all in to launch her new business, including investing about $200,000 of her own money.
“I bet the ranch,” said Stom, who has lived in the Petworth neighborhood for six years. “I put up my house as collateral, and every dime I own I invested in this.”
Tuesday’s soft opening caps an 18-month effort to find the right location — Stom eventually signed a 10-year lease for the space that once housed a Chevrolet dealership and, more recently, Rainbow Auto Body Shop — obtain permits, hire employees, complete construction and stock the store with product.
Before Annie’s Ace Hardware, the closest home improvement stores to Petworth were in Brookland and Brentwood. The District’s four existing Ace Hardware stores are in Tenleytown, Glover Park, Fifth Street NW and Logan Circle. All but two of the 11 sales associates Stom hired in January live in or near the Petworth neighborhood, and many walk to work.
The store is part of an influx of commercial and residential developments near the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro station, including DC Reynolds Bar, the recently reopened Sweet Mango Cafe and fashion retailer Willow DC.
“It’s really neat to be part of the rebirth of this community,” said Stom, who for 11 years directed a youth educational program in the workforce development unit of the Labor Department. “I’ve been energized by how much the neighborhood appreciates this and sees this store as a milestone for how the community is turning around. That’s humbling.”
Stom is the majority owner of Annie’s Ace Hardware, but she got some help from a Small Business Administration loan from Cardinal Bank and a group of friends who came to her with a proposition to invest in her venture. That eventually blossomed into a larger network of friends who contributed varying amounts to the new business.
“They’re all missionaries,” Stom said. “They all want this to work.”