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NEWS: Wiener’s Home Hardware celebrates a century of service (Provincial Election 2022)

May 24th, 2022 · No Comments

The venerable institution remains in the Wiener family

Marty Wiener accepts his plaque celebrating 75 years in the business in 1997, surrounded by the Wiener family. COURTESY WIENER’S HOME HARDWARE


By Fox Oliver

What’s the secret to keeping a family retail business running for a century? Marty Wiener is the one to ask, as his family’s business, Wiener’s Home Hardware (432 Bloor St. W.) has been open for one hundred years and has been run by three generations of the Wiener family. As he approaches retirement and gets ready to sell the business to his daughter Melanie, Marty has taken time to reflect on the changes he’s seen on Bloor Street over the decades and the key to his success in managing the business through it all—consideration and attention to detail.

Hyman and Ida Weiner founded Wiener’s Hardware in 1922. While Hyman was doing plumbing installations in the neighbourhood, Ida ran the store. As their business grew, so did their family. Hyman’s youngest son, Gerry Wiener, started working at the store after high school and eventually took over the business in the early 1960s. He joined a new cooperative, known as Home Hardware, and changed the name of the business to Wiener’s Home Hardware. Gerry married and raised a family, just like his parents had done years before.

Marty Wiener, Gerry’s oldest son, began working weekends and summers in the store in 1968, when he was 13. After graduating from university in 1977 with a degree in microbiology and genetics, Marty began working full time at Wiener’s. In 1998, Marty expanded the store into the building next door, just in time for its 75th anniversary.

Marty says that the biggest change he’s seen in the over 54 years he has worked at Wiener’s is that streets dense with retail stores have turned into areas packed with restaurants. This has made it more difficult to draw customers into the store during the day, he says. Marty adds that there has also been a change in the customers. Many people are just as sociable and friendly as they were 50 years ago, but there are more customers who “want what they want, when they want [it], and how they want it.” While he says he can meet their demands, the tone of the interactions has changed, and not necessarily for the better.  

After working full time at Wiener’s for seven years, Melanie is excited to finally take over the business. She’ll be the first woman to run the business since her great-grandmother. Melanie says she plans to keep the core values of customer service the same but intends to give the store a greater online presence to adapt to changes in modern retail. Melanie first remembers going to Wiener’s on her days off school as a kid and would have fun running around the store and helping her dad at work. Now she shares the same special experience with her own five-year-old daughter, carrying the family tradition forward yet another generation.

Canadian journalist and author Stuart McLean wrote a piece describing his visits to Wiener’s titled Hardware Stores Have All the Answers. McLean wrote: “Going for hardware is like going for water at the village well. No matter when you go, there is always someone there with something to say, and sooner or later everyone you know drops by.” 

Toronto poet Dennis Lee also wrote a poem about Wiener’s called A Trip to the Hardware, which playfully describes just how committed the staff are to ensuring the best possible service for their many customers.

With all the dedicated staff and customers of Wiener’s in mind, the Bloor Annex Business Improvement Area (BIA), Annex Residents’ Association, and Harbord Village Residents’ Association are hosting a block party to celebrate Wiener’s 100th anniversary. On June 18, a portion of Howland Ave. will be closed for a ceremony marking the exact day that Wiener’s Hardware first opened 100 years ago. Brian Burchell, head of the Bloor Annex BIA, said that this block party and ceremony will express the community’s gratitude to the Wiener family for keeping their treasured institution alive for so many years.

Come join the community in celebrating 100 years of Wiener’s Home Hardware and the welcoming environment they’ve provided ever since June 18, 1922. You might even learn a thing or two about the Annex’s rich history.

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