Founded in 1866, W.S. Jenks & Son has earned the reputation as Washington, D.C.’s oldest hardware store. Over the years, the family-owned business and Do it Best Corp. member has adapted with the times, expanding to larger spaces, adding e-commerce options and creating new experiences for customers. Recently, W.S. Jenks & Son has forged another trail by creating new opportunities for some of D.C.’s most deserving young people.
For the past two years, W.S. Jenks & Son has hosted a job fair to connect area small businesses with recent high school graduates with intellectual impairments. The unique event bridges a gap in the community, allowing small businesses to find friendly, reliable employees while promoting a capable, but often overlooked, population of the workforce.
During the job fair, students have an opportunity to network with more than a dozen local businesses in a supportive, rather than competitive, environment. This year’s fair hosted more than 20 local students. To support the event, W.S. Jenks & Son truly walked the walk. The family business grew again, hiring a young man who now works five days a week in the store.
This new employee is now part of the business’s historic success. In addition to employment, W.S. Jenks & Son has maintained strong ties to its capital community by creating a welcoming, engaging atmosphere for community members to enjoy. In 2014, the business moved to its current location on Bladensburg Road, which features an open-air, rooftop garden for community gatherings, such as yoga classes. The store also regularly hosts DIY workshops for the public, including a recent side table-making class.
With a long-lasting commitment to the community and its under-utilized workforce, W.S. Jenks & Son has set itself up for continued success. For more information, visit www.wsjenks.com.
This story is part of our ongoing ‘Local Memories, Lasting Impact’ series that highlights small, locally owned businesses and the differences they make in their communities.