Employment and Jobs

Retooling for Employee Ownership: A Profile of A Few Cool Hardware Stores

October 17, 2022  • Yoorie Chang & Matt Helmer

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The potential of employee ownership to improve job quality, enhance business performance, and help address race and gender wealth gaps is increasingly capturing the interest of policymakers, business leaders, worker advocates, and others across the US. However, lack of familiarity and expertise about employee ownership remains a challenge. We’re pleased to share a profile of a business, A Few Cool Hardware Stores, that recently converted to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP).

The profile features an interview with founder and CEO, Gina Schaefer, who explains her decision to convert to an ESOP, the process of transitioning to employee ownership, and the challenges and successes she and the new employee owners have encountered along the way. Gina recently published a book, Recovery Hardware, about the business’s journey in helping revitalize neighborhoods and in supporting employees to improve their lives.


Let’s #talkopportunity About Employee Ownership

Hear directly from Gina about her experience and watch “Ownership at Work: A Discussion on Designing and Growing Employee Ownership.” Gina is joined by Frank Lindsey, a store manager and new employee owner, in a moderated discussion with Alana Semuels from TIME Magazine. The event also features Senator Chris Van Hollen from Maryland and an exciting panel of experts who discuss the benefits of employee ownership, how we can design jobs and workplaces to include ownership, and strategies for supporting the success of growth of this model. Watch now.


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In this profile, @Hardware_Gina of @Cool_Hardware explains her decision to convert to an ESOP, the process of transitioning to #employeeownership, and the challenges and successes she encountered along the way.

#EmployeeOwnership can improve #jobquality, business performance, and race/gender wealth gaps. But lack of familiarity and expertise remains a challenge. What can we learn from companies like @Cool_Hardware?

[email protected]_Hardware converted to an ESOP, setting an example for other companies considering #employeeownership. No surprise it’s captured the interest of policymakers, business leaders, and advocates across the US.

“Retooling for #EmployeeOwnership: A Profile of a Few @Cool_Hardware Stores,” featuring Founder and CEO @Hardware_Gina. By @yooriechang and @MattHelmer of @AspenJobQuality.


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The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.