Here’s something you don’t see every day, a big company helping out the little guy. That’s exactly what’s happening in Brookland: A community staple, the Brookland Hardware store, is going out of business. But all is not lost, thanks to an unlikely partner: their competition.
Usually with these types of situations it’s out with the old and in with the new, but that’s not the case with Brookland Hardware. True, the brick-and-mortar will be gone, but the most important part will be sticking around: the people.
“We call him ‘Young Rome,’ because he’s the youngest one in the store,” says Alex Pettifore, as he introduces his fellow employees at Brookland Hardware. “We also call him ‘Jamaican lover’ because everybody loves him,” says Pettifore of another one of his coworkers. “They call him ‘Squeaky Al’ because he’s always in the nooks and crannies.” Meeting the hardworking people at Brookland, it’s pretty easy to see what’ makes this place so special.
The people have kept them around at the corner of 12th and Monroe for more than 35 years. But now, to no fault of their own, the time has come to close up shop. Owner Howard Politzer wants to spend more time at home. “It was sad and yet interesting and sort of exciting all at the same time,” says Politzer about the decision to retire.
That positive outlook Politzer has comes from an unlikely partner: his competition. Down the road a few blocks on 8th Street NE, a shiny, new store is opening: Annie’s Ace Hardware. The folks behind that store quickly realized Brookland Hardware had something special that just couldn’t be split up.
“We approached him and said how we can work together,” says Thomas Verdrody, with Annie’s Ace Hardware.
So they hired every single one of Brookland’s employees. “She’s hiring all of my employees, giving them benefits and making a smooth transition,” says a thankful Politzer.
“We never had a moment of worrying, because right away they said, ‘you have a new job here, it’s yours if you want to take it.,” says Pettifore.
Annie’s Ace Hardware gets their more than 100 years of combined hardware experience. “You’ll be able to see a lot of the same services, you’ll be able to see the exact same people,” says Verdrody. “It should be, hopefully, the same feel because a lot of what made that store great was the people.”
They’ll also get something no one else has: The Brookland Hardware family. “The people are always the best part,” says Politzer. “Everything else is a building or an object but people make the difference.”
Because if there’s anyone who knows how to keep a lock on Brookland, it’s the hardware store.
Brookland Hardware will be open until this Saturday, and Politzer wanted to make sure we passed along that everything in the store is 90% off. And by the way, Politzer won’t be retiring completely as expected, Annie’s hired him as an advisor.