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Company's History

In 1830 Ridout's Hardware Store, opened as one of the first ironmongery, at the north-east corner of King and Yonge Street, in York, Upper Canada. Bounded by George Street, Duchess Street, Ontario Street and Bay Front, York was still operating in British pounds, shillings and pence. Although it was a small town, Jospeh Ridout realized the business potential and decided to take advantage. Consequently, he established a Board of Trade Council, which could help in making changes to the organizational structure of the company. He named himself president of this Council, and soon after signed on two new business partners, Thomas Crombie and James Aikenhead; and thus in 1830 the company's name was changed from Ridout's Hardware Store to Ridout, Aikenhead and Crombie.

To attract customers to their new store, Ridout, Aikenhead and Crombie decided to print an ad in a local newspaper, The Christian Guardian. In this advertisement, they printed information regarding the comany's products and services, in hopes of attracting a wider range of clientele. Being able to supply consumers with great product knowledge and excellent customer skills, the company was soon on it's road to success. As a result,Ridout, Aikenhead and Crombie decided to re-locate and build a larger store that could meet the expectations of the nine-thousand inhabitants. Thus, in 1891 the store was re-located to 6 Adelaide Street.
The company's economic prosperity should be attributed to its highly-organized structure. The Hardware Store had an Old Day Book, dating from November 1833 to July of 1835. Written in copper-plate, the book held every transaction within these years. Each page of this book was headed under "York, Upper Canada," and with each progressing day, the company had an increase in sales. Furthermore, the book is of importance becasue it convyes how the Hardware Store was able to undergo the transformation of York, from a town into a city. For example, on March 7th, the heading was changed from "York, Upper Canada" to "Toronto." This reflects how the store initially only met the demands of only a few thousand inhabitants, and was later able to re-structure themselves in a way so they could surve a larger population. This is of significance because it ultimately reflects how to company and its operations played a crucial role in terms of politics and economics because they assisted the city to industrialize.

With the rapid success of the company, at the age of thirty-four, Thomas Aikenhead, James' son, began his apprenticeship with the family-owned business. With his excellent learning abilities, Thomas believed he could take the store to a new level. Thus, in 1893 Thomas purchased the business and re-named it to Aikenheads Hardware Limited. Thomas was able to re-structure the company and lead it into the future. The company's business history can be divided into two distinct phases. The first one being when the Hardware Store opened on a small-scale, only supplying essentials for the private home. By contrast, the second pahse is marked by expansion and industrialization. For example, previously the Store was only owned by one owner, Joseph Ridout, who solely served the 'downtown shoppers.' However, in the second phase the ownership changed from a single owner to combined partnership. This phase is marked with the Store's ability to incorporate technology, which helped them to supply a wider range of customers. The second phase is also marked by the company's stronghold in the economy. For example, well into the twentieth century, they ioened a subsidary company known as Hobbs Hardware Limited in London, Ontario. Thus, the historical account of Aikenheads history is of signifcance because it demonstrates how a once privately-owned family business was able to develop into a million dollar corporation.

The company's ability to initially serve a population of nine thousand inhabitants in 1840, to a later opoulation of over senven million inhabitants in the later half of the twenteith century, the comapny was forced to re-locate once again! Thus, the store moved to a five-story downtown store on 17 Temperance Street. This ultimately became the mecca for local browsing execuitives and downtown shoppers. This specific location is of historical importance to Toronto's business sector. For example, although the store has been renovated, the original bricks which once surrounded the store still stand today. So when your driving down Temperance Street, be sure to look out for number 17, and you will see the same brick walls that once held the name Aikenheads Hardware Store.

In the fourth generation of Aikenhead's the company opened a head office that was located on top of the 17 Temperance location. James Wilfred Aikenhead was the president at this point in time. The company still continued to prosper, so he decided to open a show-room warehouse on Don Mills Road. This was done, so the company could present customers with the products and services they were offering. Within a short period of time, James incorportaed a computerized system to assist the staff members in processing oders, invoicing, merchandising and in handling personnel and several accounts. This technoligical transformation is of significance, because it reflects how their success should be attributed to their capbility to alter their modes of operation to correspond with changing times.

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