An iconic Winnipeg hardware store is celebrating 100 years of service to its community this weekend, but reaching that old age hasn’t been easy.
For the past century, the home of Pollock’s Hardware Co-op has been a red brick building at the corner of Main Street and Luxton Avenue in Winnipeg’s North End, where it has supplied the neighborhood with everything from hammers to household items.
Over the weekend, people gathered for a block party to celebrate the institution around a large can of Pollock’s Cream Ale, made especially for the anniversary by Torque Brewing.
“For someone to turn 100 is amazing, but a retail location and the flow that it’s had is super amazing. How we do that is we believe… people before profits,” said Rod Harder, who serves as a treasurer on the co-op’s board.
North End resident Ellen Kolisnyk provides plants for the co-op and says she loves being part of a neighborhood institution.
A retired teacher, she often meets former students or colleagues at Pollock.
“It’s a really great place for people to come and meet and see each other. I saw my old manager here and I haven’t seen him in decades,” she said.
“People just come to browse and they either come for their nuts and bolts or they come to see what’s new and all kinds of different things available for sale, but also lots of great conversation.”
Pollock’s Hardware opened in 1922. At first, people came to listen to hockey games on the radio, said co-op board chairman Luba Bereza.
In 2007, the last family to own the store wanted to sell it and retire, but unable to find a buyer, they closed it.
It was then that the community rallied and transformed it into a cooperative the following year.
Things took another dark turn in 2019, when board members recommended closing the store due to financial issues, but members voted overwhelmingly to keep it.
Board member Jack Slessor says he’s grateful to the younger generation of people who come to Pollock and help him survive.
“My motto is use it or lose it. They said they wanted it, and they voted with their dollars, and they consistently supported it. 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:
Up to speed6:47Pollock’s Hardware 100th Anniversary Celebration.
Keeping the store alive has always taken a lot of hard work and a lot of love, Bereza said.
“We found that it’s still a viable place. People want to come here. We have over 4,000 members who want to support it. So we felt we had something here that we could really work with,” said she told CBC Manitoba’s Faith Fundal in an interview on Up to speed Thursday.
The pandemic has been another challenge for the co-op, but it has introduced some changes to keep the store relevant.
Bereza said the co-op has started launching online sales and hopes to eventually bring the full inventory online.
“We really have to pivot like everyone else.”
Even so, Bereza says the store’s atmosphere feels a bit like the 1980s sitcom. Cheerswhere everyone knows your name.
The weekend party tells him there’s still a lot of support for the co-op after all these years.
“Let’s see how far higher we can go from here. This is kind of a reminder to everyone in the community of how important Pollock is,” she said.
“Few companies are 100 years old. I think there is goodwill and a lot of support for the future of Pollock.”