PHOTO BY CODY SELLAR
Pollock's Hardware Co-op is celebrating its Main Street store's 100-year anniversary.
By: Cody Sellar
Posted: 2:24 PM CST Friday, Jan. 14, 2022
A cat sprung onto the counter beside the hardware store’s till and dug its claws into a four-by-four post supporting a Plexiglas shield. Ratchet is the cat’s name, and he saunters about Pollock’s Hardware Co-op as though he’s lived there since it opened 100 years ago.
The white and grey feline is something of a mascot for Pollock’s. His very presence sends the message that the store is more than just a business — though it is that, too. It is also a community institution.
With the arrival of the new year, the Main Street store, which became a community co-operative in 2008 after its last private owners were unable to find a buyer, is celebrating its centennial anniversary.
Co-op board chair Luba Bereza said Pollock’s prides itself on its involvement with its neighbourhood.
"We really have anchored ourselves in the community, through our partnerships with organizations such as LITE," Bereza said, going on to list a number of other organizations Pollock’s has partnered with for one initiative or another. "So, we are a co-operative. We sell stuff — hardware, housewares — but we also see ourselves as having a responsibility to the community that we live in."
Ratchet the cat has lived at Pollock's Hardware for about 12 years. Staff come in on holidays to spend time with him, board chair Luba Bereza said.
Bereza said that since the co-op took control of Pollock’s membership has grown to about 4,400 people. That doesn’t mean it’s been all smooth sailing along the way.
In 2018, a short-lived location in South Osborne shuttered its doors after losing money each year of it’s five-year existence. But the original Main Street location remained viable and continued its mission to keep the mom and pop store alive, as box chains like Home Depot and Rona, as well as online sellers, glutted themselves on more and more of the market.
With those trends and a pandemic claiming an ever-increasing number of businesses, it’s been an up and down ride for Pollock’s as of late.
"People who were at home were finding themselves with projects they wanted to do. So for the first six to eight months after March 2020, even up to the Christmas of that year, we really saw an uptick in sales," Bereza said. "I can’t say that for 2021. It’s changed a lot. Maybe fatigue has set in. People aren’t interested in painting their rooms anymore."
Despite the difficulties, Bereza said Pollock’s is committed to continue "doing the impossible, in terms of a retail co-op," by keeping its doors open. Bereza said it’s success so far is due to a few things.
"We pay attention to what people want. We are small, but mighty, and we want to be successful. We want to show that this model can be successful for a retail business not only to survive, but to thrive," she said.
She encouraged customers to come down and to let the staff know if ever there’s something they need that Pollock’s doesn’t carry, so the store can better stock its shelves.
A number of community events to celebrate Pollock’s 100-year anniversary are in the works for the upcoming spring or summer, Bereza said.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for The Times. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7206