IN “STREETSCAPE” (8/27) the loss of M.L. Hardware was referred to in the future tense. M.L. has been closed since early last spring. I went there one day, everything fine—next day, closed. I inquired to the manager of Looking Glass Antiques (in the same building), and he said it had been a surprise to everyone, especially M.L.
A month or so later, I ran into M.L.’s most recent owner, Girma K. Desta, and asked him what had happened. Girma wasn’t very specific, saying that the building’s owner had “other” plans for the site. “We’re looking for a new location,” Girma told the small crowd that had gathered around upon hearing our conversation—all interested in the fate of Adams Morgan’s last hardware store (there were four in 1980, three by ’84, and two in ’90 before Schlossberg’s closed).
Just a couple of weeks ago, a flyer appeared advertising “Best Hardware—located at 2328 Champlain St. NW. Formerly M.L. (Servistar) Hardware….” My wife and I went in last weekend and everything was the same except for the people. There were SALE signs up but nothing much was discounted. We bought a couple of things and my wife wrote a check and asked to whom to make it payable. There was a fellow sitting down up front who said to make it out to “Best Hardware…at least for now.” He also provided answers to the following questions:
Q: Is there really going to be a hardware store here, or are you just unloading M.L.’s inventory?
A: Yes, there is going to be a new hardware store here.
Q: Is it going to continue as a Servistar franchise, independent, or another chain?
A: We’re trying to reduce the Servistar inventory, but after that it will be an Ace Hardware franchise.
Q: What happened to M.L.?
A: No comment.
My guess is that they are merely unloading M.L.’s inventory—who would open a new hardware store on a site destined for redevelopment, unless perhaps they were guaranteed a lease in the new building? How did some other party end up owning M.L.’s merchandise? It might be worth looking into this story from your future neighborhood. Maybe something interesting there.