Ace Hardware coming to Petworth; friends who give me rides to Home Depot rejoice!

Annies Ace from Parkview DC

Big news: Ace Hardware is opening a store in Petworth, on the 1200 block of Upshur Street facing the Roosevelt High School stadium in the Rainbow garage building. There were some rumblings about this happening a year ago, apparently, but this was a total shocker to me. I can’t describe how excited we are about this — for the neighborhood as a whole but really just for ourselves. Tip to Kent at Park View DC who broke the news this morning, I believe.

It’s always encouraging to see retail open in Petworth that’s not a trendy new bar or restaurant, providing residents with a regular need not available in the neighborhood and in a place that’s easily accessible.

For every one trip to Home Depot that requires me to rent a ziptruck and get bulky, heavy stuff like sheetrock or lumber, I make 10 trips to Home Depot to get an amount of stuff that would fit in my trusty milk crate on the rear of my bike. Jar of epoxy. Bucket of stripper. Paintbrush. Drywall screws.

The owner — whom lives in the neighborhood — sounds like she totally gets the market niche and how having a city store in this walkable neighborhood full of people who mostly live in older rowhouses is different than opening in a strip mall in Fairfax. Check out this quote from the owner’s press release:

“This isn’t a suburban store,” Stom said. “That means our model needs to be different in terms of transportation options, as well as our product mix.” For example, she explained, lawn equipment will be geared toward the smaller yards of the nearby row houses. “We will also look at home renovation products that are appropriate for houses built in the early 20th century.”

They also touted the nearby metro and bus lines, coming Capital Bikeshare station and their ample bike racks. I’m sure I’ll be biking over there on a regular basis to pick up this or that. It’s 5 minutes or less on bike for me. I’ve considered biking to Home Depot a few times but it’s a bit of a pain to get there via bike, and there’s nowhere to lock up. (In addition to the fact that they don’t stock things differently based on the fact that they’re in the city. Just another suburban big box, yet it’s in the middle of the city. Dumb.)

Most of the time, I either take metro by on the way home, ride with my pal Justin who’s also working on a house, or rent a zipcar for a bit.

The old Rainbow garage space is fantastic (see pic here from Park View blog.) I’m really curious to see what they do with the front of the building, though. There’s currently a bunch of open concrete between the façade of the building and the edge of the sidewalk. I hope they turn that into an outdoor display area or part of the home and garden department in a way that engages the street and folks walking by. Right now, it’s a pretty unenjoyable place to walk past with the extra large setback. Buildings need to come as close to the sidewalk as possible to help create the feeling of an outdoor room that good city streets have. And they need to give you interesting things to look at.

Personally, I love how some grocery stores in NYC and elsewhere engage the sidewalk and the street, which is a lesson our Safeways and Giants could really learn from. Gives the street life.

This is great news for Petworth, and especially for Our Old Rowhouse. Though we can’t usually afford them, it’s also good news that they’ll be carrying Benjamin Moore paints. I can’t wait to get in here when they open (November 2011.)

But the best part of this new store opening? The fact that I’ll go to the Worst Home Depot On The East Coast about 90% less than I do now. (No really, it’s the worst. Google this. It’s #1.)

Welcome to Petworth, Ace.

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