Fond memories of Rogers Hardware date back 169 years
Posted on February 10, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
One of the oldest businesses on Prince Edward Island, the history of Rogers Hardware predates Confederation. Although no longer in operation, its building and fond memories remain.
The genesis of Rogers Hardware dates back to 1854 when 17-year-old Benjamin Rogers moved to Charlottetown and began working as a clerk at Thomas Dodd’s hardware store. Four and a half years later in 1859, both men developed a business partnership and opened Dodd and Rogers Hardware on Pownal Street in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
The business was known for selling stoves and a very wide variety of hardware items; their slogan was “if it’s hardware, we have it.” Edie Rogers, great-granddaughter of Benjamin Rogers, commented “everybody knew where to go if they were looking for an obscure piece of hardware”.
Eventually needing additional space, Benjamin and Thomas purchased land to construct the business’ now-historic retail building on the corner of Queen Street and Grafton Street in 1867. Dodd and Rogers operated in the Northern section of the building and the other half was a pharmacy.
Edie remembers many elements of the interior: “it was a beautiful old building with wooden floors, plate glass windows for displays, ceilings decorated with patterned tin and shelves from floor to ceiling that staff used a wooden ladder on wheels to reach.” There was also an interesting vacuum-like system for transferring cash around the store.
Former employee John Kamphuis worked in the warehouse across the street handmaking stove pipes for the business. His biggest memory of the store was the large number of “old bins with wooden tops that had as many different sizes of nails and screws as you could imagine.”
In 1904, Dodd sold his interests in the business to Rogers and it was renamed Rogers Hardware Company. Business continued to thrive and by 1921 Rogers Hardware had grown to occupy the entire building on Queen Street.
Over time, inventory was expanded to add housewares. One side of the store was dedicated to the hardware they were known for and the other was stocked with dishes, figurines, ornaments and other things for the home.
Wholesale was another large part of the business; Rogers supplied hardware inventory to stores throughout the province and kitchenware to local restaurants.
Rogers Hardware was passed down through the Rodgers family over time. Tom Rogers (Edie’s father) inherited the building and purchased the business with his brother in 1950. The retail store remained on Queen Street until 1988 when it moved across the street to operate from its warehouse until the business was dissolved in 1998.
While Rogers Hardware has closed up shop, fond memories and its stone walls remain. The Queen Street building has been designated a historic site and is currently owned by MRSB Group, while the warehouse on Grafton Street is now home to the Pilot House restaurant.
Edie Rogers commented, “Rogers Hardware was located on a pivotal corner for business in downtown Charlottetown. With the Market just across the street, it was a busy little spot.”
Gone but not forgotten, 169 years later.
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