WASHINGTON — A Few Cool Hardware Stores, the largest locally owned hardware store chain in the region is selling all of its stores to its employees.
In all, A Few Cool Hardware Stores has more than 250 employees across 13 stores in D.C. and Maryland, including Fager's Hardware and Garden Center, which they purchased in 2017. Frager's is a Capital Hill landmark that caught fire in 2013.
Owners Gina Schaefer and Marc Friedman plan to sell their ownership through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
ESOPs work like 401(k) plans. They offer employees a stake in the company through stock allocations that gain value over time.
The ESOP transfer of ownership happens slowly. The full transfer will take a few years, but the first 30% transfer of ownership happened on August 1, 2021. The full transfer to 100% employee ownership could take up to six years.
"We're really proud to be able to do this, particularly at this time in our history with discussions about generational wealth and building community" Logan Hardware co-owner Gina Schaefer said. "I think forming an ESOP is going to be a really great way for employee empowerment and ownership and long-term viability of a brick and mortar business."
More information about the process can be found here.