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For the second year in a row, HCN has compiled a state-by-state list of high performers, innovative retailers and classic stores. It’s called the 2012 Home Chanel News Hardware Store All-Star list. Strong customer service is the common thread for all 50 retailers. From there, community involvement, company history, great products and interesting niches set these businesses apart from the competition.
The alphabetical listing of Hardware Store All-Stars, one from each of the 50 U.S. states, continues below with Maine, Maryland (including Washington, D.C.) and Massachusetts:
Customer service? Check. Big city inventory packed into a small town store? Check. But where Gosline’s enters All-Star territory is its community involvement. To his credit, owner Tom Bolster seems to have a hard time saying no to worthwhile local groups -- youth sports teams, school functions, local churches, public safety organizations, several charities and many others (one count puts the total at 60) have gained the store’s support in one form or another.
Maryland / Washington, D.C.
A few cool hardware stores
Gina Schaefer has built her empire by opening hardware stores in gentrifying neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The former biotech executive -- who knew very little about hardware retailing or home repair when she started in 2003 -- has opened a store almost every year. She and her husband, Marc Friedman, now operate seven hardware stores. The couple plan to open a new store this summer in the Baltimore neighborhood of Canton. Schaefer joined the Ace board of directors at age 37, and is now serving her second term.
The 2012 Golden Hammer Retailer of the Year earned its award by combining family values that go back more than a 100 years and a corporate structure that manages 121 northeast stores. Twenty family members are in the business that extends four generations. CEO Marcus Moran Jr., the founder’s grandson, credits long-tenured employees, and a no-two-stores-are-the-same approach. “We just fit into our communities,” he said.