Beyond 'essential': Pollock's Hardware presses on

By: Sydney Hildebrandt
Posted: 04/13/2020 11:16 AM
Community Journalist - The Times

Time after time, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op has proven to be resilient.

After shutting down briefly in 2007, the North End business at 1407 Main St. reopened as a co-operative in 2008. It currently has around 3,700 members.

Its buoyancy is again being tested amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Things that should in theory kick us down just don’t," Samantha Leclerc, general manager, said.

Pollock’s Hardware — which specializes in gardening and household products, as well as hard-to-come-by items — was deemed an ‘essential business’ by the Manitoba government, allowing it to stay open.

But, similar to many other businesses still afloat, operations now look different at Pollock’s.

"We are busy in a different way," Leclerc said.

Along with consistent hand washing, the store is sanitized once every hour as well as after it closes for the day.

Hours have been reduced to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Only four customers and two staff are allowed in the shop at the same time to ensure physical distancing.

Many orders are made over Instagram or the telephone, and the store offers delivery and pick up.

"I think when they deemed hardware stores an essential service (people) kind of went, ‘How is that possible?’" Leclerc said.

But Pollock’s offers more than just furnace filters and fuses; it’s also home to locally-made goods.

With the cancellation of markets for the foreseeable future, Pollock’s is one of the few places makers can continue to sell their creations aside from out of their own homes.

Year-round, the store shelves products from around nine makers, and that number doubles near Christmas time.

"When this first happened, and of course all the markets started closing, I had a lot of concern for the makers that sell out of our store because I know that’s how they make a living, is market season. And we are basically a supplementary income to that, so they sell in our store but the majority of their income comes from markets," Leclerc said.

"So I’m happy to still have a space for them to sell here."

Pollock’s has been in the neighbourhood since 1922 — almost a century.

Before the pandemic, it was a meeting spot, a place for community members to connect.

"Customers will come in and they’ll just stop and they’ll stand still and they’ll be like, ‘My grandpa brought me here.’ There’s such a connection to the past in this store, it’s kind of a really beautiful thing," Leclerc said.

The community’s adoration for the store is obvious when you walk up to the front door which is politely decorated with encouraging notes, thanking the business for its service.

"I have seen a change in how people shop and how people move. I’m very grateful to the people who come into my store and are respecting our space," Leclerc said.

"This is a scary time obviously, scary for me as a mom, just to be out in the world everyday. But this store, being here, has been a very positive experience in a very scary time."

Sam Times April 15