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In this Building Local Power podcast episode, Institute for Local Self-Reliance co-director Stacy Mitchell interviews Gina Schaefer, founder of several Ace Hardware stores and board member of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The two discuss how her Logan Circle neighborhood in Washington, D.C., reacted to the first store opening and the way the stores are faring in the age of big-box retail and Amazon. If you're interested in finding out the ways the cooperative model of Ace Hardware works across the country, the experience of a women in independent retail, and why valuing retail workers is critical to success, then this episode is for you. 

"[Amazon] just means that we have to be scrappier, and more diligent, and figure out how to be more top-of-mind for our consumers," Schaefer says. "I do think that there's a role that the customer needs to play. On one hand people are loving the return of Main Street. They're embracing the Shop Local movements. … Then on the other hand is really fighting this 'it's cheaper and more convenient' mentality with Amazon that all of the small retailers have to figure out how to compete with."

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About ILSR: We work to create sustainable, home-grown economies across the U.S. New episodes of the Building Local Power podcast are published bi-weekly on Thursdays. Sign up for new podcast notifications and monthly email updates from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Click here for a full transcript of this podcast conversation. Audio: Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL Ft: Fourstones – Scomber (Bonus Track). Copyright, 2016.

Institute for Local Self-Reliance


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The Institute’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers