by Rhian Brynjolson from Winnipeg, MB
Last night we gathered together as many neighbours as we could fit into our local community centre, set up tables for a potluck and said goodbye to a community institution in Winnipeg's north end.
Pollock Hardware has been in the neighbourhood for as long as any of us can remember. The original owner bequeathed it to his stockboy. The current owners tried hard to find a buyer, but the time has come for them to retire out to the cottage, so the doors are now closed.
We have all appreciated the variety of things we could find at Pollock Hardware. We live in an older neighbourhood with older houses that require ongoing repair. It feels like something always needs plumbing, patching,
glazing, hanging, grouting, plastering, unlocking or fastening. In our neighbourhood renovation is thought of as a leisure activity. We work our way through kitchens, bathrooms, windows, hallways, living areas, decks, fences… and then start all over again.
Pollocks always seemed to have what we needed.
It is a mystery to me how all of that inventory fit into that store.
And the staff all seemed to know what we were talking about when we asked vaguely for ‘the thing that fits inside the tap’. And not only that…but that they seemed to know exactly where to find it inside the store – even though no one had ordered the part since 1953.
If they didn’t have the part, they’d improvise one out of baling wire and charge you 14 cents. Once I was told “No, we don’t carry
that, but I’ve got some in my basement at home I’m not using. I’ll bring it in for you tomorrow.”
There were also, of course, the gagets. They had a wonderful stock of beautiful, practical, simple machines that don’t blink and beep. Machines that don’t require electricity and counter space. Friendly, low maintenance machines that sit quietly and obediently in bottom drawers until they’re needed.
We enjoyed the cider and cookies they served at Christmas. All of these things made Pollock Hardware feel more like a small town general store – or maybe even a community centre. It was common to stay and chat for a while, trying to postpone the renovation work waiting for at home.
So last night was difficult. It was a sad but special night last night. A number of people took turns thanking Wayne and Lois for their work; for helping to establish part of Main street as a business zone and improving the neighbourhood, for helping with the gardening projects at Luxton School.
Our local MP, Judy Wasylicia-Leis presented them with a letter from parliament. Sharon Corey, a local artist, presented them with a painting of the store. Everyone had pitched in to have the painting framed. There were hugs and toasts and a cake wishes for a happy retirement.
I'm still getting used to the boarded up windows and the padlock on the door. I don't know where I'm going to find the washers for the antique plumbing in my house. I'm going to miss the cider and cookies at Christmas. So I'm buying a share in the co-op that a group of people have started to try to keep the store open. More than 50 people showed up at the first meeting and we're hoping that the credit union will give us a mortgage. And that this story might have a happy ending yet…