We asked readers to share their memories of Frager's Hardware. Here are some of those submissions.
'My House of Hardware Worship'
I was going crazy trying to find a replacement handle for the basement shower...there are hundreds of different shapes and sizes of stems that I couldn't match. I thought I was going to have to spend hundreds for a plumber to come to the house, but "Nick" the manager simply unlocked a special gauge they kept in the store and handed it to me to take home and return...one of many bright ideas and personalized service I found at this, my weekly House of Hardware Worship. They may rebuild, but it won't be the same without all the creaky floors, cascades of "stuff", and bright, eccentric staff who worked in this series of adapted old brick buildings. My favorite item they carried were "pig nose rings"--and not just for urban hipsters.
-- Craig D'Ooge, Capitol Hill
Door sweeps and wine glasses
A few years ago, I went to Frager's to get a door sweep for my front door so that the cold winter air wouldn't blow through the one inch space between the door and the floor. I took a picture of the door on my phone and showed it to Rob, a Frager's employee. Rob asked for the measurements of the door then gently scolded me for not measuring before I came to the store. He charmed me and sent me home to get the measurements. I returned a little while later and he cut the door sweep to fit exactly. Great customer service! I also purchased a set of wine glasses at Frager's several years back and thought it was awesome that my neighborhood hardware store sold wine glasses.
-- Lizzie F., Capitol Hill
A catapult to launch an egg
Back in 1990 I was a sr. in high school assigned (w/a partner) to build a miniature catapult to launch an egg. We were able to more or less recreate a design from a medieval weapons book, with one hitch: We needed a counterweight small enough to fit into the mini catapult but heavy enough to send the golf ball at least 6 feet. So my mom & I took the problem to Fragers. We examined several possibilities -- a bag of nails was one, I think -- but then the man helping us (Ed, maybe?) had an idea. He went up a ladder and rooted around in some small drawers near the ceiling and came down with his solution: A lead ingot -- a solid brick of lead -- which was dense enough to do the job. What other store would even *have* a lead ingot, never mind take the time to solve a high school student's physics homework?
-- Molly Wyman, Capitol Hill
Full of unexpected surprises
When I moved to DC three years ago, I was amazed by the strong sense of community in Eastern Market. My first visit to Fragers truly fit that. It was a place reminiscent of the hardware stores my dad used to take me to 30 years ago, where every nook and cranny was filled with unexpected surprises. The staff always went out of their way to be helpful, even to a neighborhood new-bie like me. I hope they rebuild soon - I cannot imagine going to a mega store for any of my hardware needs.
Lauren, Eastern Market
Knowledge and care
My now wife and I moved to Hill East a year ago. It was the first pre-war home for either of us. We quickly realized we had some mortar issues with our brickwork, not uncommon for houses 100+ years old. I started to research how to fix the problem and realized we needed very special mortar that was basically lime and sand. Two days of research later, I find out a manufacturer and product name but can't find a place that sells it close by. I figured I'd wander down to Frager's to see if they could make sense of my obscure request. Not only did Frager's have the exact brand, but I got thorough instructions and a check to make sure our house was of the proper age to use the mortar in question. Where else am I going to get that sort of knowledge and care? I miss them already.
-- Damon, Hill East
Go-to hardware store
Every key, picture hanger, light bulb, custom cut glass and paint gallon I've purchased over the last thirty years, has been at Fragers. I'll miss bumping into neighbors and the wonderful staff there. I'm so sad.
-- Michele Hoben, Capitol Hill
I am 64 years old. Before there was toys r us, my parents would take us to Frager's Hardware to shop for Christmas. They watch to see what we were most interested in and that would be our gift under the tree. We couldn't figure out then how they knew what to get. We looked forward to that trip every year from 10th and G Sts. We won't forget Frager's.
-- Marlyn Piper-Williams, Bowie, Md.
'They had everything'
Going to miss it the friendly staff, Wish it could be rebuild by winter I'm going to miss that fire wood. They had everything for these old houses on cp hill they had the right size doors everything I just can't believe it. Loved you!!!
-- Pia Washington, 17th SE
'A hardware museum'
Shopping there many times with our son and daughter-in-law for items associated with their recently purchased home on Capitol Hill. Everyone was so friendly and helpful! Last time we were there, they gave us Tshirts. It was like a hardware museum and needs to be rebuilt
-- Janet T, Ann Arbor, MI
A great place to explore
We have shopped at Frager's for over 30 years and were still being amazed at the sections of the place that existed but did not know about. Up two steps to find a washer, up a different step to find a house number, down steps to find a trash can or squeeze thru an opening to find a toilet seat. and every employee knew where to send you. Such a great place to just explore.
-- Jim Fulton, SW DC
A Thanksgiving mission
In late 30,s, my family lived 3 and A, NE. Thanksgiving Day we had a large Turkey, no large pan to cook same. Mother sent me to the Frager's store 300 block of Pennsylvania S,E. I can still picture Mr. Frager going up on a latter and downstairs looking, until he finally found a large roasting pan. and the price was reasonable for a family of very limited means. None of these new stores can take the place of the customer service and respect that I received as a young boy on an important mission. The day was saved.
-- Nazzerino Coluzzi, Ft. Washington, MD
Condolences from Baltimore
We just received this news this morning about what happen and it is heart breaking to hear this. I pray that store can be rebuilt. Our heart goes out to you all.
-- Alvin & Robin Frager, Baltimore, Md.
So sad we have lost such a historical landmark on The Hill in D.C. It was always fun to shop at Frager's Hardware when visiting family in D.C. For memories sake, happy we have our t-shirts and my Frager's coffee mug!
-- Fabian & Patricia Skretta, Rural Minden, Western Iowa