Gina Schaefer, Chief Localist

A visionary in the retail industry, Gina redefines what it means to shop, support, and promote "local". To request additional details, please send an email to [email protected].

Meet Gina

CEO and Co-Founder, A Few Cool Hardware Stores

Schaefer is Founder and CEO of a chain of Ace Hardware stores located in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, Alexandria, VA, Takoma Park, MD and Silver Spring, MD.  She is a passionate entrepreneur who grew her company from one to 13 stores in 18 years and now leads a multimillion-dollar business that employs more than 250 people. She is dedicated to maintaining a strong corporate culture. Schaefer's big passion is for developing urban markets, supporting small businesses and helping women to succeed in all aspects of the hardware industry. She has tirelessly focused on the "Return to Main Street" movement in her own city of Washington, D.C., to promote Shop Local campaigns and community revitalization in urban areas.

Schaefer draws her inspiration from fellow entrepreneurs who strive to be creative, think differently and help make a difference. People like Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia who inspired her to use her voice as a force for good; Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig, founders of gourmet food group Zingerman's Community of Businesses in Michigan, from whom Schaefer learned innovative business strategies and Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, who taught her that nonprofit organizations need to think beyond simple charity. 

When her busy schedule allows, Schaefer likes to relax by making greeting cards (she's a big believer in the power of the written note), kayaking, taking spin classes, traveling, reading and, of course, mentoring other small business owners.


Schaefer has received numerous accolades for her many accomplishments, including:
• Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply, 2020
• Hardware and Building Supply Dealer's People of the Year Award, 2016
• Washington Woman of Excellence recipient, Washington DC Commission on Women, 2016
• SmartCEO’s "Brava Award" for Top CEO in the Washington, DC area, 2014
  Women Worth Watching, Profiles in Diversity Journal, 2013
• Industry Top Gun, National Retail Hardware Association, 2011
• Women Who Mean Business Award, Washington Business Journal of 2009

Board Experience
CCA Global, Corporate Board Member (2016 - present)
Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Nonprofit Board Member (2014 - present)
Ace Hardware Corporation, Corporate Board Member (2007-2016)
House of Ruth, Nonprofit Board Member (2008- 2020)


National Cooperative Business Association


Premier Speaker's Bureau


National Speaker's Bureau


Leadership Greater Washington