The COVID-19 pandemic derailed initial plans for celebrating the 100th anniversary of Frager’s Hardware & Garden Center, the longest continuously operating hardware store in Washington, D.C.
Determined not to let the centennial pass by without recognition, the store staff organized a socially distant celebration, adapting their yearlong calendar of events, fundraisers and festivities into a monthlong celebration in September.
Frager’s is a member of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, a group of 13 locally owned Ace Hardware Cooperative locations in the Washington metro area.
“We felt a responsibility to the community to ensure the store received a proper celebration for their 100th Anniversary,” says Courtney Belew, marketing manager for A Few Cool Hardware Stores. “We couldn’t let the year pass by without finding some way to thank our customers and staff for a century of support and service.”
Instead of hosting in-person parties, the store substituted a virtual celebration, highlighting other local businesses online and fundraising for area nonprofits through customers rounding up their change on purchases.
A weekly e-newsletter highlighted 100 years of the store’s history, tenured staff bios and Wednesday giveaways. The store gave customers limited edition Frager’s centennial items such as buttons, stickers and custom-made chocolate-covered cookies dipped in the store’s trademark orange and blue logo colors.
In partnership with a local blogger, the business shared customer submissions every Saturday detailing their favorite memories at the hardware store, including stories from an original Frager’s family member and reminiscences about a wedding hosted in the store’s garden center in 2013.
The business partnered with a local graphic designer to create a 100 years logo featuring the neighborhood’s most iconic landmarks, including the Frager’s storefront. The image was also used on store signage and employee uniforms in the store, as well as on T-shirts, face masks and tote bags available for sale.
In addition, the socially distant celebration included prize giveaways for customers, such as 10 gallons of paint and 50 prize packages containing locally crafted cheeses, Frager’s gift cards and Frager’s anniversary tote bags shipped directly to local customers’ homes.