Home Hardware owners adapt, thrive through pandemic

In early 2020, Sam Profit and her husband Graham were just getting settled after moving to Canora with their infant daughter Terra to take over as the new owners of Home Hardware. Then COVID-19 took hold around the world, giving them a whole new set of challenges. But with hard work, they young couple was able to find some positives in the pandemic.

“Many procedures in the store had to be changed,” said Sam. “That included wearing masks and doing a lot more sanitizing, especially high-touch locations. But we discovered that many Canora and area residents didn’t want to travel to the city for shopping, due to safety concerns, and they discovered that we could provide them with the supplies they needed. Last summer a lot of people weren’t working due to the pandemic. Many of them had lots of home projects to do and lots of time to do them.

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“We’ve been offering free curbside pickup and delivery, which has been quite popular. We have customers who want to shop here but don’t want to walk around in the store, so we do the shopping for them.”

These days Graham is staying home and looking after Terra while Sam manages the store. But Graham is a journeyman mechanic with plumbing experiences, so he is available when his skills are needed in the store.

Sam said even with all the extra work created by the pandemic, they have still been able to address a number of priorities they had for the business after taking it over from Graham’s father Kris.

“We wanted to rebrand the business,” she explained. “We put up a new sign out front, did new tin, painted the store interior, and added signs indicating the various departments in the store. We also put in new end caps which are the little end peg boards that face the centre aisles; a very visible thing for customers. Our next priority is reorganizing things to create smoother flow around the store.”

Since taking over the store they have gradually built up inventory so that customers could shop with the confidence that they would find the products they need.

“At the beginning, many shoppers came in and told us things like, ‘I’ll be needing two of these every month.’ That was very helpful, and we had the room in the store to build up the inventory we needed.”

Barb High and Dan Daoust worked at the store when Sam and Graham took over, and they continue to be valued employees.

“We also hired a girl to work here last summer and we definitely want to get her back again this year,” projected Sam. “We’re expecting a busy summer with selling a lot of paint, stain and garden supplies, as well as strong demand for plumbing supplies.”

They are always looking for customer input regarding any changes or new inventory they would like to see at the store.

The Canora Home Hardware store has been in the Profit family since 1994. Sam had been working in retail for years when the opportunity came up to take over the business from Graham’s father Kris.

“I was pregnant and the move made sense, since Graham grew up in Canora,” she recalled. “My retail experience includes working at Fabric and Crafts stores in the U.S. We needed a larger house, and a house the size of the one we have here would have been far more expensive where we lived previously.”

Graham’s father has stepped back from the day-to-day operations at Home Hardware, but is still available when they need extra help or the benefit of his extensive experience.

Sam said everyone they’ve met since moving to Canora has been “wonderful, kind and encouraging. We’ve really enjoyed interacting with all those who come into the store, especially since we don’t get out much due to the pandemic and having a young child.”

Graham has been able to connect with a couple of friends from his days growing up in Canora.  Unfortunately, the in-person contact has been limited, but they are looking forward to doing some outdoor distance visiting when nicer weather returns to the region.