Manitoba

Where everybody knows your name: Winnipeg co-op hardware store celebrates 100 years

An iconic Winnipeg hardware store is celebrating 100 years of serving its community this weekend, but it hasn't been an easy journey getting to that ripe old age.

Pollock's Hardware opened in the North End space in 1922 and shifted to a co-op in 2008

A brick building is pictured with part of a black car in the foreground.
Pollock's Hardware Co-op is celebrating 100 years in the community this weekend. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

An iconic Winnipeg hardware store is celebrating 100 years of serving its community this weekend, but it hasn't been an easy journey getting to that ripe old age.

The home of Pollock's Hardware Co-op for the past century has been a red brick building at the corner of Main Street and Luxton Avenue in Winnipeg's North End, where it served the neighbourhood with everything from hammers to housewares.

Over the weekend, people gathered for a block party to celebrate the institution over a tall can of Pollock's Cream Ale, made especially for the anniversary by Torque Brewing.

"For anybody to reach 100 years, it's amazing, but a retail location and the flux that retail's had, it's super amazing. How we do it is that we believe ...in people before profits," said Rod Harder, who serves as a treasurer on the co-op board.

North End resident Ellen Kolisnyk supplies plants to the co-op and says she loves being a part of a neighbourhood institution.

Shelves of paint and painting supplies line a wall.
Although Pollock's Hardware Co-op is stacked wall-to-wall with everything to meet its customers' hardware needs, members insist the store is much more. Pollock's is 100 years old as of this weekend. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

A retired teacher, she often runs into former students or coworkers at Pollock's.

"It's a really great place for people to come and get together and see each other. I saw my former principal here and I hadn't seen him for decades," she said.

"People just come and browse and they either come for their nuts and bolts or they come and see what's new and all kinds of different things available for sale, but also just a lot of great conversations."

A woman holds pill bottles full of seeds in front of a bunch of bushes.
Ellen Kolisnyk gave out seeds in old pill bottles at the Pollock's Hardware Co-op 100th birthday party on Sunday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Pollock's Hardware opened in 1922. In the early days, people would come by to listen to hockey games on the radio, co-op board chair Luba Bereza said.

In 2007, the last family to own the store wanted to sell it and retire, but when they couldn't find a buyer, they shut it down. 

That's when the community rallied, and turned it into a co-op the next year.

Things took another dark turn in 2019, when board members recommended to close the store over financial woes, but members overwhelmingly voted to keep it.

Board member Jack Slessor says he's grateful to the younger generation of people coming to Pollock's and helping it survive.

"My motto is use it or lose it. They said they wanted it, and they voted with their dollars, and they have supported it constantly. It's a great place," Slessor said. 

"It's more than just a hardware store. It's an institution here."

LISTEN | 100 years of Pollock's:

An iconic Winnipeg hardware store is celebrating its 100th Birthday this weekend....and it wasn't easy to get here. Luba Bereza, the chair of the co-op board told Faith about how the store is being celebrated this weekend.

Keeping the store alive has always taken a lot of work, and a lot of love, Bereza said.

"We found that it is still a viable place. People want to come here. We have over 4,000 members that want to support it. So we felt we had something here that we could really work with," she told CBC Manitoba's Faith Fundal in an interview on Up To Speed on Thursday.

A person is pictured standing in front of a stage with the sign "Pollock's Hardware Co-op Repair Shop" in the background.
Pollock's Hardware Co-op board chair Luba Bereza is pictured on the 100th anniversary of the shop. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The pandemic has been another challenge for the co-op to bear, but it ushered in some changes to keep the store relevant.

Bereza said the co-op started launching some online sales, and they eventually hope to put the full inventory online.

"We have to really pivot like everybody else."

Even so, Bereza says the atmosphere at the store is kind of like the 1980s sitcom Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

A grey and white cat.
Ratchet the cat is a big draw to Pollock's Hardware Co-op, members say. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

The weekend party tells her there's still a lot of support for the co-op after all these years.

"Let's see how much higher we can go from here. It's kind of a reminder of everybody in the community how important Pollock's is," she said.

"Not many businesses get to be 100 years old. I think that there's some goodwill and and a lot of support for Pollock's going forward."

Winnipeg co-op hardware store celebrates 100 years

3 months ago
Duration 1:50
Pollock's Hardware Co-op, located at the corner of Main Street and Luxton Avenue in Winnipeg's North End, is celebrating 100 years of serving the community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Email story ideas to rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.

With files from Joanne Roberts and Janice Grant

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