The History of Pollocks Hardware Co-opSince 1922, Pollock’s Hardware store at 1407 Main Street has been open for business. For over 85 years, it has been supplying the neighbourhood with access to a variety of hardware and household items. In 1994, Wayne and Lois Cash bought the store and owned it until, wanting to retire, it was put on the market. Unfortunately, they could not find a buyer and so, in 2007, Pollock’s Hardware closed its doors.
This could have been the end for Pollock’s. It had most certainly happened elsewhere. But local neighbourhood members who were dismayed that such a north-end icon would be shut down, were inspired to re-open it as a co-op. Meetings were held at the local Luxton Community center, an interim board was formed and a business plan was developed.
Memberships were sold for twenty-five dollars each and helped to raise the working capital needed. The co-op used a combination of equity capital from contributing members, loan capital from Assiniboine Credit Union and a loan from the Jubilee Fund. Partnership with the Provincial Economic Development Tax Credit program allowed Pollock’s co-op to sell investment shares to their membership and offer a 30% tax credit to all those who bought. After much planning and negotiation, it would seem that Pollock’s Hardware would re-open its doors.
On June 21st,, 2008Pollock’s Hardware Co-op held it’s grand opening and celebrated with community members, food and special guest appearances from Mag Ruffman and Steve Smith (Red Green). Rhian Brynjolson was so inspired by the experience that she wrote Pollock’s story down and sent it to the Vinyl Café on CBC. The host Stuart McLean read the story on air and support from all over the country came pouring in. It would mark the beginning of a co-op success story that has since inspired many.
In the following months Pollock’s continued to find success. Jim Chapryk, followed by Mike Wolchock, was appointed as store manager. New inventory was purchased to reflect the uniqueness of the store and the neighbourhood it serviced. In the first year, sales were up 22% above the projections outlined in the business plan and member equity investments were 38% above the established business plan targets.
Pollock’s continued to surprise by exceeding expectations and becoming a financially stable business. Most recently, in 2011, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op paid 5% interest to those who bought investment shares and has also expanded the investment share program. The co-op has also purchased the building at 1407 Main Street and has thereby guaranteed it’s continued presence in the North End neighbourhood. Membership has continued to grow and has nearly reached 2000 members.
Also in 2011, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op entered into a Social Enterprise Centre with BUILD and Manitoba Green Retrofit. Together they purchased a warehouse at 765 Main Street and will use the location to bring social enterprises and non-profits together. Pollock’s will rent 5000 square feet to use as a warehouse and supply BUILD and Manitoba Green Retrofit, as well as other contractors and the general public, with building supplies. This second location will open its door in the spring of 2012.
It’s unsure where the future of Pollock’s Hardware Co-op will lead. It has already surprised so many with its success and tenacity. Thanks to local neighbourhood members who have chosen to support this historic store, one thing is for sure – it will be around for a long time to come
Why a Co-op?
The owners of Pollock Hardware planned to retire so they put the business up for sale. After quite a while on the market there was no serious interest in buying and operating this North End institution. A number of customers believed that a community ownership strategy might be a viable option to individual private ownership and the hardware co-op idea was born.
The Co-op model has a long history of working hard for social and economic development in both rural and urban Manitoba. With the backing of the community through memberships, investment and volunteerism, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op hopes to:
- Meet the community’s needs as a successful hardware business
- Promote local ownership and control
- Develop and provide community leadership
- Build a stronger community
Pollock’s Hardware Co-op serves our community and beyond. Unlike some models where only members are able to shop in their facility, Pollock’s Hardware Co-op is open to all, so come on up to 1407 north Main Street and bring a friend. Hope to see you there!
A break down of how Pollocks Hardware Co-op came to be what it is todayThe Closure of Pollock Hardware
Pollock Hardware was established in 1922 on Main Street, between Atlantic and Bannerman Ave. It had a city-wide reputation for service and availability of items not easily found elsewhere. In 2007 the owners of the store wished to retire and tried, unsuccessfully to sell.
Saving the Store
News of impending closure was very disturbing to north-end residents. It meant the loss of well known City institution which had served generations. It symbolized possible decay of the neighborhood. It threatened great inconvenience to the local population, especially seniors and the poor.
Community Activists Mobilize
The Neighborhood has a long tradition of community activism. The idea to try to save the store was hatched in Lisi’s Ranch House, where many important north-end ideas originate! A small group approached the sellers in late 2007 to sound out possibilities. Community Activists Mobilized. The owners saw the store as their pension and had strong views on what it was worth and how quickly they wanted to sell. They sold off inventory and, eventually, closed the store in December 2007 before we could assess possible viability and community support. In January we tried unsuccessfully to interest another hardware store to buy Pollock Hardware. We then began to examine the financial statements and put together a business plan. We decided that another business model was need: hence the idea of the Co-op.
Preparing the Groundwork
We had the building examined by Inner City Renovations. We had it valued. We had the inventory and equipment valued.
Mobilizing the Community
We called a community meeting. About 70 people showed up. They enthusiastically endorsed the idea of a co-op owned store buying out the owners. We began selling memberships at $25. We then began to put the business pieces together
The Business Plan
We used the owners’ previous financial statements and income tax returns as a basis. We calculated how much we could afford to pay for the building, equipment and remaining inventory. We gained the support of Assiniboine Credit Union and the Jubilee Fund. We hired a lawyer and accountant and ran our plan by them. We met many times with Co-op Development for advice on developing the co-op, offering Membership Shares, drawing up by-laws etc. We also met with Finance to develop a proposal to issue Investment Shares which would be eligible for a CED Tax Credit of 30%
The Negotiations then followed
The owners would not accept our best offer to buy the building. They eventually agreed to a five year lease-to-buy agreement in March 2008. We could not agree on a price for the inventory, name and equipment. We then went back to the Community. Considering Alternatives, the Community was prepared to consider a new venue and a new name. Alternative sites were looked at but, and perhaps fortunately, the sellers had a change of heart and a deal was struck by mid-April 2008
The Business Plan
The Plan envisaged recovery of sales to 2006 levels of $335,000
Inventory: $90,000 to$125,000 year 2
Losses of $14,000 first year
Break-even year 2, then annual net income $22,000
Members: 200 year 1, 400 by year 3
Investment Shares of $40,000
Lease payments started May 1. Needed recruit a manager quickly. Needed staff in a tight labor market. Heavy reliance on volunteers for arranging suppliers, credit, utilities, licenses, legal agreements, point of sales system, credit card/interact, cleaning store, refinishing floors, arranging remaining inventory, publicity, signs, memberships, CED tax credits etc.
But on the Positive Side We had massive public support. Huge media interest. Red Green was in store promoting. Stuart McLean, Vinyl Café gave us a great boost on his show. We also have a Great Board!
First Year Outcome
Sales of $411,000, 22% above budget
Inventory: $170,000, almost 90% above plan
Losses of $34,000 first year
Members: 1,258! Fees basically covered loss
Investment Shares $54,000
2nd Year Consolidation
Sales, over $730,000
Core $585,000, rest BUILD
Inventories continue to climb to $190,00
Net income positive, $8,600 cash, $3,500 operations
Staff stabilized and representative
Strengthening ties with CED organizations
Future Challenges and Possibilities/Steady as she goes
The Building. Other locations. Other functions: The mandate issue.
Non-Hardware involvements. Greening. Limits to Growth. Other Partnerships
Pollock’s Hardware Co-op keep on keeping on!
Stay tuned for more on year three and a little more on the past of Pollock's Hardware Co-op.
We are always happy to hear from you. Please contact us if you have any questions or comments about our products, services or the co-op itself. If you're in the neighbourhood, be sure to stop by take a look at our stock in person. If not, give us a call or an email and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.
1407 Main Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Warehouse is located at 765 Main Street
Monday - Friday: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sundary: Noon to 5:00 pm
Warehouse hours are Monday-Friday 7:30- 4:30