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THE 3-MINUTE INTERVIEW: John Weintraub

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People,Kytja Weir

As owner of Frager's Hardware since 1975, Weintraub sells all kinds of goods to Capitol Hill denizens from his sprawling old-style hardware store that is packed floor to ceiling.

Do you stay open every time there is bad weather like this?

Yes, we try to stay open all the time during the storm. If power goes out, we use flashlights, although we are out of flashlights now. We give them to customers.

How long has the store been here?

Since 1920. It was founded in 1920 by the Frager family. We bought it from the family.

So what are people coming to buy amid the storm?

Flashlights, batteries, sand. What else? Tarpaulins ... pumps, submersible pumps, generators. We went through all the generators ... You do get constant calls: "Are you open?" "Are you open?" And then it can be for the mundane things, like I just got a call: "Do you make keys?" Yes, we make keys. Hundreds every day. It's the common things. But they have to call before they come, so it just adds to the frenetic pace.

So do you have normal staffing on days when the weather is nasty?

Normal staffing because it's hard to gear up ... We've found those who want to come to work always find a way. Those who don't, the slightest thing ... And there are some who are totally dependable and just can't make it.

So have you ever closed for weather?

I don't think we ever did. The last time we lost power, we had a generator to keep up the computers. And we've got some skylights in the store, so it provides enough light, then we have flashlights.

Although I don't what we're going to do now. ... We ought to keep a few around.

So is your house equipped with candles, flashlights, batteries and the like?

No, I'm in the hardware business, so I'm the worst prepared. My house looks like crap and needs a paint job.

- Kytja Weir

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