Celebrating a century at Pollock’s Hardware

The floorboards of Pollock’s Hardware Co-op on Main Street in Winnipeg’s North End have seen plenty of traffic. In fact, they’ve seen an entire century go by. Oh, if those floorboards could speak!

The store, an institution in the community, marks its 100th anniversary this year with celebrations and special events that echo its unique place in the community—and one of the city’s last remaining neighbourhood hardware stores. 

Pollock’s Hardware signage

Proudly serving people before profit

Luba Bereza accepted the position of chair of the co-op a year and half ago, and plans to push hard to maintain Pollock’s stake in the city.

“There used to be this message on a roof when you came over the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge on Salter Street that said, ‘Welcome to the North End, People Before Profit.’ That’s still true,” Luba described. “If you are here, you are really here,” noting that the legendary pride of North Enders has not faltered. 

So it makes sense that a co-op would find a home here as the type of organization that promotes local ownership and control, all while striving to develop community leadership. 

Related: How Pollock’s Hardware Co-op turned nuts & bolts into a lasting legacy

Benefits of the co-op

Pollock’s Hardware store

Pollock’s Hardware became a co-op in 2008 when the owners weren’t able to find a buyer and the doors almost closed for good. 

The last few years have not been easy for the co-op, according to Luba, as pandemic closures and pressure from big box stores seems relentless. But being part of a co-op tends to pay off in other ways. 

“We are big on engaging with our customers and responding to the needs of the community,” she said. “Our world can sometimes seem overwhelming, but being part of this shows that we have some control, we can make a difference, we can still walk into the store and browse around.”

Bill Dinsdale

For Bill Dinsdale, ACU’s Senior Community Account Manager, stores like Pollock’s have a special place in his heart. His family owned a general store in rural Manitoba that served a town of only 150 people. 

“It has that unique feel and vibe that people really love,” he said of Pollock’s. “And by responding to what their customers want and need, they will continue to be successful.”

Innovation to last a legacy

Bill echoed Luba’s comment that the last stretch has not been an easy one for retail. “It’s a challenging environment and so incredibly hard to compete,” he said. “But here we are, 100 years later—and they’ve made it work by continuing to be innovative and respond to the needs of their members.”

Those innovations include partnering with other co-ops and social enterprises to strengthen the community. For example, the store has a robust relationship with the Seven Oaks School Division to bring in students for work experience and counts Peg City Car Co-op as a partner. 

Now, Pollock’s is also introducing its very own peat-free seed starter kit for gardening buffs in the neighbourhood and beyond. 

Pollock’s Hardware painting
Painting by Sharon Cory

Celebrating 100 years

Celebrations for the centennial include a lecture series that kicks off in April with a screening of the National Film Board of Canada’s This River and a roundtable discussion. It’s followed by other events that will be held through the end of June.

Pollock’s Hardware 100 year celebration lecture series:

April 19: This River (NFB film) and Roundtable on MMIWG2S: Nahanni Fontaine and Bernadette Smith

May 10: The North End & Beyond: John Paskievich
May 24: Main Street Merchants: History of Western Canada through Commerce: Murray Peterson
June 7: The People’s Co-op: Dr. James Mochoruk
June 21: Early History of Luxton and Contributions of Indigenous Residents: Dr. Maureen Matthews and Dr. Anne Lindsay 

And, for a complete birthday bash, a big party will be happening from June 24 to 26, 2022, along with an outdoor market, beer garden and the unveiling of a plaque at the co-op. The event will be open and free to the community, and more information will be posted on Pollock’s Facebook page. 

Pollock’s Hardware Grand Opening 2008
Nigel Mohammed, Director, Community Financial Centre at the Grand Opening in 2008.

“We couldn’t do any of this without the support of ACU,” Luba explained. “They have been such a booster to us for so long that I can’t imagine it any other way.”

About Shel Zolkewich

A journalist by trade and an adventurer at heart, Shel is always collecting stories, whether on assignment or not. She loves to explore the unexpected places that are filled with surprising discoveries. Her clothes are seldom clean and her hair is never brushed but her head is full of ideas to share. She lives on a farm in rural Manitoba with chickens, ducks, bees, a dog named Sammy and assorted humans.

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