Pollock’s Hardware still thriving as a co-op

100 year old store still stocks many vintage items


Myron Love

Celebrating 150 years of Winnipeg


In this, the first of a series of stories that we will be running in Lifestyles 55 profiling some of Winnipeg’s – and Manitoba’s – historic businesses still in operation to commemorate our city’s 150th birthday. I am happy to be able to report that Pollock’s Hardware Co-op is still thriving as it begins its second century in operation.


I remember it well. It was the winter of 2008, and I was writing at the time for a hardware store magazine (which is no longer in publication) about efforts by community members to save the venerable Pollock’s Hardware. One of the last of the independently owned hardware stores in our fair city, Pollock’s had been closed by its owners, Wayne and Lois Cash, several months before. The couple had been wanting to retire for some time and had been unable to find a buyer.

Pollock’s Hardware can be found at 1407 Main Street

As I recall, Pollock’s long-time customers and others in the north Winnipeg neighbourhood were unwilling to lose a business which had become a local institution. Keeping the store going became a cause célèbre. The upshot was a series of meetings which resulted in the formation of a co-op run by a manager working for a board of directors.

My wife and I attended a couple of those meetings and were among the initial group of members of the co-op.

Pollock’s hardware was founded at the northeast corner of Main Street at Bannerman in 1922 by Scottish-born World War I veteran and contractor Alexander Pollock. He had arrived in Winnipeg in 1904 – at the young age of 22 – and had established himself as a contractor. He continued his work in construction alongside running his new hardware store.

Of its early history, little has been written. Pollock passed away in 1957 having had no children to pass the business on to and I would presume there may have been a few different owners before Wayne and Lois bought the business in 1994.

Raber garbage mitts behind the counter. Pollock’s supports local manufacturers.

According to the Pollock’s Hardware website, the Grand Re-opening was celebrated on June 21, 2008, “with community members, food, drinks and special guest appearances from Mag Ruffman & Steve Smith (Red Green)”.

Fast forward to 2011 and Pollock’s continued to surprise by exceeding expectations and becoming a financially stable business. In 2011, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op paid 5% interest to those who bought investment shares and had also expanded the investment share program. In 2012, Pollock’s rented 5,000 square feet to use as a warehouse and supply BUILD and Manitoba Green Retrofit, as well as other local contractors and the public with commercial building supplies. This second location opened its doors in the spring of 2012 and operated for several years. A third location opened in the community of South Osborne in the fall of 2013 and operated for over five years.

“We ran in to some financial difficulties and had to close our other locations, leaving us with only our original store.” notes Kaitlyn Peters, who has been the Co-op’s general manager since December, 2022. “The Covid-19 lockdown however helped re-invigorate our business.”

Present day, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op now solely runs out of its flagship store location in the North End. As is usual in hardware stores, Pollock’s carries paints (“We’re the oldest distributor of Benjamin Moore paints in western Canada,” Peters points out), tools of all kinds, a good assortment of screws, nails and other fasteners, electrical and plumbing, lawn and gardening supplies. The store offers glass and window repair, tool sharpening and tool rentals.

Where Pollock’s stands out is in the number of vintage products that can be found in the store – items such as stove pipes, washboards and lanterns. If you can get down there in time, you may still be able to buy some of the Nutty Club products from Pollock’s last order from the long-standing food processor in the heart of downtown Winnipeg which closed its doors for good in January.

Last of the now defunct Nutty Club stock.

Peters adds that management makes a point of stocking locally-made items. Just behind the counter, for example, you will see hanging an array of Raber Garbage Mitts. The store also carries Altona-based Blue Sky Opportunities wood products such as racks, small furniture and crokinole boards. You will also find in the store jars of locally produced honey, soaps and scents and an assortment of eco-friendly, retro kids toys.

Peters notes that Pollock’s has a staff of six dedicated year-round staff with additional staff on for the busier summer months.

Summer is also the time for Pollock’s annual outdoor market. “We get people from all over coming for the market,” Peters reports.

For the 100th anniversary celebration two years, street closure, a beer garden and speakers – talking about the store’s history – were added to the usual array of local vendors displaying their products.

“What I really like about working at Pollock’s is the strong sense of community here,” Peters observes. “Our staff, our members and our customers are really passionate about Pollock’s.”

@ 2024 Pegasus Publications Inc.