During the century that Hipperson’s Home Hardware has served Nelson, the store has been owned and operated by five generations of the the Hipperson/Horswill family.
“It’s amazing isn’t it?” says Michael Horswill, who is part of the third generation. “I’ve been working here since I was 10 years old — that would have been 1949 that I started.”
To celebrate, Hipperson’s Home Hardware hosted a party on Baker Street, complete with birthday cake and burgers. Four generations of the Horswill family were in attendance.
“It’s satisfying to see how the generations (of our family) have grown alongside each other,” says Randy Horswill. “It’s been fulfilling to keep the store within the family as well. I never sat my kids down and told them that their future is the hardware store. Hopefully we can do it for a sixth generation.”
Bill and Becky Hipperson first opened the business’s doors in 1923. It originally occupied the building that is now Otter Books. A decade later in 1933 they moved across the street to its current location at the corner of Stanley and Baker.
Jack Horswill was an employee of the Hipperson’s from a young age. The original Horswill family member involved in the business, he eventually married the Hippersons’ daughter, Margaret Hipperson. The pair bought the business from her parents in 1953 on the condition that the store wouldn’t change names. This began the tradition of passing the torch to the next generation of family.
Randy Horswill purchased the store from his father, Michael, in 1997. He was the entrepreneurial spirit behind purchasing what was previously Arrow Building Supply and opening a Home Hardware Building Centre on Lakeside Drive. Over the years, that location has expanded far beyond their original store front, but the spirit of Hipperson’s Home Hardware still lies at the Baker Street location.
“The relationships that we share with our customers are what keeps this going,” says Courtney Dooley, fifth generation. Alongside her sister Brittany Winje and brother Linden Horswill, the trio are learning to share the responsibilities of operating both the Baker Street and Lakeside Drive locations.
“This is the first generation where there has been a sibling partnership operating the business,” she adds.
The Horswills emphasize that the true spirit of the store is their dedicated and attentive employees, many of which have been with the store for a long time.
“I suppose my favourite part of the job is helping all of the customers that come in here,” says Rick Haukaas, a familiar face in the Baker Street location and employee of 14 years.
“It’s satisfying to give them sound advice and to help them with their problems. Most communities don’t have a Hardware store downtown, and I think the neighboring businesses have really embraced having us here,” adds Haukaas.
Linden Horswill thinks the store will survive online shopping.
“People talk a lot about how online businesses are going to ruin retail businesses, but I really don’t think they will ever substitute for the experience that our customers have here.”
Proceeds from donations at the birthday party went to the local charity organization Friends of the Family.