18 May 2010

My Day at Fragers, Part 3

Juan Wilson, manager of Frager’s paint department

I have lived in my house for five years and in those five years I have painted the 10 rooms and two hallways in my house a total of 18 times.

We painted the rooms in our house when we first moved in the summer of 2005. I repainted our kitchen when we updated the cabinets and counters. I repainted the guest bedroom after a small renovation project. I repainted the dining room for the third time last fall, but I still have not found a color I like, no matter how many samples I paint on the wall. More recently, I have set my sights on my living room. Once a shade of girly purple, I’ve recently started putting samples on the wall in the hopes of upgrading the room from a child’s toy land to a sophisticated, but fun, space to sit, read and play.

With every painting project, I head to Frager’s paint department. I can spend the better part of an hour looking at the samples that line the east wall of the store. And did you know that they now sell wallpaper? They do–from Candice Olson to Walt Disney (think vintage style and not cartoon characters).

This past March, I was lucky enough to spend some time with the staff behind the counter. And the view from the other side of the cash registers and paint mixers is just as sweet.

If there is one store at Frager’s that is consistently busy month after month, it is the paint store. “Our regular customers and contractors tend to come in during the week,” says Juan Wilson, the store’s manager. “The average person working on his or her house will come in on Saturday or Sunday—our busiest days.” If you have ever needed paint on Saturday, you’d have to agree.

“And while there are other hardware stores and paint stores popping up all over the place, we have the best reputation,” says Wilson, a photography major in college and Frager’s employee for eight years.

Along with paint, wallpaper and supplies—including everything from duct tape to spackle and sand paper—Frager’s paint department also offers patrons the opportunity to consult with color specialists like KC Kohn—who dishes out color advice from 12pm to 4pm every Saturday—and Jessica Morris, an employee at the store.

For Morris, born and raised on the Hill but now living in Anacostia, the position at Frager’s is a chance to mix her studies with her work. Morris is working toward a master’s degree in interior design at George Washington University.

Morris’s passion is space planning—enhancing a home’s function and flow—but she loves helping people pick out colors for their home, and answering their questions as well.

As is true with other departments at Frager’s Hardware, the staff are a family, and the job is something that they love. Wilson, Morris and the other employees who man the counter and mix our colors—be them bold or classic, a quart or a gallon—are helpful, patient and, in my case, welcoming. I left wishing I too could spend my days mixing paint and chatting with the customers and employees at Frager’s Hardware.

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9 responses to “My Day at Fragers, Part 3”

  1. Kate says:

    Thanks for the back story on all the great staff in the paint store. While not QUITE as zealous about my painting as you are, the during hours I’ve spent in the paint store, I’ve always been impressed with the helpful advice the staff dishes out. I’m thrilled to hear about the wallpaper, etc. Now if they could only get more of the small sample jars!

  2. whoa_now says:

    While I agree and love Frager’s and their knowledge is a large reason why I go…there paint is outrageously priced. I’m talking 3 or even 4 times more what lowes/home depot would charge. Yes the quality is probably better, but even if you buy the top ends at lowes/Hd…its much much cheaper. And lets be honest, can you really tell? if you are doing the painting yourself, the cost matters more than you would like to believe.

  3. Jen says:

    The paint is very expensive but we found that we use less of it. Cheaper HD paint required several coats while the stuff from Fragers needed fewer.

  4. Tim Krepp says:

    I’d say the same as Jen. I gagged on the cost of the super expensive hippie low-vox emissions Auro paint, but it covered in one coat. Also, I didn’t have to get in the car and head out to the ‘burbs. Not to mention have to deal with some surly paint clerk at Home Depot who looks at me like I have three heads when I ask about primers, all the while the cheerful voice keeps repeating “You can do it, we can help” over and over and over until I want to scream at nobody in particular “No, you can’t, you really, really can’t!”

    Whoa, sorry, that got away from me a bit…

  5. Kyra says:

    We painted our red bathroom, well, red, and it took nearly four coats of red paint, plus two coats of the tinted primer, and it still looks terrible–at least upon closer inspection. Guess where we bought the paint? Home Depot. It took as much time to get paint on the walls in our tiny guest bathroom then any room where we used Bejamin Moore. And thought I’m not sure, I’d expect that it is Ben and not Fragers who sets that price.

    I’ve used Home Depot paint, Duron paint and Benjamin Moore, and I always go back to Ben. It is great coverage and washes and wears well. You do get what you pay for when it comes to paint. (and I’d say the Duron paint is a very strong second.) A purple Duron wall was painted in two coats… and it was very easy to work with.

    But I would agree that the limited samples suck, as does the price of a pint sample. It’s so much paint, and given the frequency with which I buy samples alone, I’m out lots of money.

    Is there a secondary market for paint samples. Anyone interested in some Jasper Opal or Palladian Blue?

  6. I hate painting. I live with the ugliest bathroom in the history of bathrooms (it’s baby poop green/brown; it looked different when I bought it) b/c I refuse to repaint it myself and it seems indulgent to hire painters again to come back for just that room.

    I want to have my guest room and kitchen painted in the next few months though. Kyra, you know, if you’re not busy…

  7. Kyra says:

    Oh… let’s mix all of my samples together and throw them up on your bathroom walls!

  8. @Kyra, it can’t be worse than what’s there.

  9. M says:

    Benjamin Moore paints are that expensive everywhere you buy them – its not a Frager’s specific issue. But it is a higher quality paint than HD or Duron, so you get what you pay for.

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