There’s nothing like the local hardware store
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/09/2021 (628 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I want to thank Jim and Bill Head who recently sent emails. Their parents, George and Isabel, ran Delta Hardware at 980 St. Mary’s Road from 1960 to 1986.
It was initially called Delta Hardware and Electric but when the Heads began operations it became Delta Hardware & Appliances, as they sold refrigerators, washers, dryers, televisions and more. They also operated a television repair division and bought a 1961 Chevy truck, which George treasured. One of the last pictures ever taken of George was in 2011 beside this refinished truck.
The business evolved through the years, as the neighbourhood and economy changed but, as with any successful small business, the store prided itself in providing personal service that was not available elsewhere.
They built strong relationships with customers from the neighbourhood and were known for their expertise in cutting keys, repairing windows, sharpening saws and skates, and tinting paint just to name a few. If someone wanted advice, they would often come in to see George.
Jim remembered his dad running tabs for some people who could not pay, and he would simply tell them to pay him when they could. He knew that some accounts would not be collectable and he was OK with that. It was his way of spreading goodwill – I don’t think that would happen at a box store today.
“Dad managed the business but Mom was the backbone of it,” said Bill.
As competition increased, they tried everything to keep the business viable, including joining a co-operative formed by merchants across Western Canada by the name of Merchants’ Consolidated.
I asked my brother, Garry (being so much older than me), of his memories. The first thing he said was they were great people. They knew their products and invested whatever amount of time required with their customers.
He remembered Isabel offering him good advice when he went into the store to buy mom a birthday present.
“If you buy a cup & saucer,” she said, “and it rattles when you walk, it is not a good fit.”
Garry remembers proudly walking home with mom’s gift knowing he had the right purchase. Garry also recalled that George would know exactly what hardware supply my brother needed, even if Garry could not describe it all that well.
One day, George even told him he could buy some wire cheaper at Beaver Lumber. Garry was impressed that someone cared enough about their customers to offer that solution. He told George he appreciated his honesty but he was fine paying a little more and buying it from Delta.
I know many people who miss those personal connections when they shop, and who cherish them whenever they do find them.
Delta Hardware has a warm spot in many people’s thoughts and memories.
Community Correspondent — St. Vital
John Hindle is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email him at email@example.com