District Hardware – DC’s Legendary Hardware Store Wharf DC
I walked into our local Wharf hardware store and chatted with two of the owners, Lauren Conway and her father, Neil Conway. The Conways have been in business in DC since 1971. Lauren’s grandparents opened their first store in Dupont Circle. Neil and his brother, Simon, both worked there and tell unforgettable tales of the notorious and the famous who frequented their old Dupont Circle shop.
In 1982, Lauren’s father, Neil, bought the business from his father and moved from the original location of Dupont Circle to Foggy Bottom. Lauren remembers learning how to make her first key there when she was ten years old with her father’s help, and hating the safety goggles. Her father, Neil, continues to be the heroic master at finding a match for your unique and hard to find keys, and of course they still make keys in both the old and the new ways at the store.
A few years ago Neil was looking for a new location in the city. When they decided to move, it was family decision. Jarrett Conway, Lauren’s brother, had heard of the Wharf through his marketing and development business and was excited by how the Wharf developers were looking to bring in local businesses.
Lauren says she wasn’t initially onboard with the move. She was working as a supervisor at a hotel, but after seeing the enthusiasm of her brother for the project, she was sold. The family joined their diverse interests to create one unique place here at District Wharf — a True Value Hardware store like always, a bike sales and repair shop like always, but with a new coffee shop and bar, Velo Cafe´ managed by Lauren, at the center.
They all share in contributing to the hardware store, and have hired another local DC resident, Steve DuBos, as the Hardware store’s manager. This frees up Neil to walk the shops, tell a tale or two, and especially to get to know his customers. Another long time employee and friend of 40 years, David Webster, is still managing the bike shop. Neil and the family and longtime employees treat their customers like longtime friends. It is the definition of what a neighborhood store should be. That may be what is most remarkable about District Hardware and Bike, the easy going atmosphere really just feels so good. Local residents, workers, kids, and even dogs are all welcome.
District Hardware is an incredible resource for any SW DC resident, but especially for we boaters. District Hardware covers the boaters by carrying everything from small house plants, phone chargers, cleaning supplies, and spray paint, through wiring and spray foam insulation, all the way to fenders for your boat. They have evening and weekend classes to teach you how to use tools, garden, or fix anything. Lauren says they even have necessities for when you travel, such as batteries, sunglasses, and travel mugs.
Getting to the store is easy from the rest of the city too. They are one of the businesses here that offer validation for the parking garages. There are drop-off and pick-up spots located incredibly conveniently right in front of the store. And of course they have bike racks inside so your bike doesn’t have to sit alone while you shop or grab a cup of coffee along with your repair supplies.
District Hardware and Bike
730 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
Hours – MON – SAT: 8:00AM – 7:00PM / SUN: 8:00AM – 5:00PM