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.
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.