Darcie’s Variety closing its doors after 15 years

Section: 
News

By Kristen Shane

 

Every day for the last eight and a half years Doug Lamb has done it: cross the street a few hundred metres from his house to pick up a paper and, maybe, a lottery ticket from Darcie’s Variety, on the corner of Russell and Walsh streets.

 

“(It’s) a great neighbourhood store,” he says. “It’s quite handy. And they’re good people who run it.”

They know his routine; he knows theirs.

 

But after this Sunday, Lamb’s daily trip to the corner store will stop. Darcie’s Variety is set to close its doors for good to make way for a new nine-unit residential complex.

 

“It’s a lot of inconvenience. People are going to have to go some place else to get those items,” says Lamb. “It’s a big loss.”

 

It’s something Darcie Maurer, the store’s namesake and manager, and her mother Lynda have heard a lot of since they put two neon orange signs in the store’s front window a few weeks ago, announcing the closure to customers.

 

“They’re all disappointed. There are a lot of people in this neighbourhood who don’t have cars,” says Lynda.

“Especially the elderly people who like to have a little walk and come to the store and have a visit,” says Darcie.

 

Darcie Maurer, manager and namesake of Darcie’s Variety, punches in some of the last purchases before the store closes this Sunday. (Kristen Shane photo)

 

After 15 and a half years of managing the store and working the morning shift, Darcie says she’ll miss the people the most – and the dogs. For years, she’s enjoyed feeding neighbourhood dogs treats every morning outside the store and chatting with their owners.

 

Lynda pulls out a photo album from under a counter. In it, there are photos of her family cleaning up the store after they first took over.

 

They reflect about days past on Thursday, amid the sound of jack hammering heralding the site’s future.

 

Kincardine council approved a plan last March to turn the plaza’s vacant north side into a four-unit residential complex, but leave the convenience store intact. The property’s owner, Listowel-based developer Tom Kerr, now says that won’t work. In January, Kerr told Darcie’s father, store owner Harold Maurer, that he would stop leasing the space to Maurer on a month-to-month basis come March.

 

“Initially, we would let the variety store stay as long as they wanted, but without some sort of lease and without upping the rent, it was pretty tough to do it,” says Kerr. “It was hard to incorporate the variety store in with the (new) residential use and end up with the look that we wanted.”

 

Kerr is now planning to turn the existing plaza into seven residential units and add another two units to the property’s south side. He’s already built a six-unit apartment complex north of the plaza. Construction on the new residence, which should last until June, will likely cost between $900,000 and $1 million.

As of last week, Kerr was waiting for provincial approval for affordable housing funding so he could lease the units for about 25 per cent less than average Bruce County market rates (about $535 per month for a two-bedroom apartment). If he doesn’t hear soon, he may proceed with construction and end up renting the units at regular market rates.

 

The Darcie’s Variety storefront is set to be transformed into residential space. (Kristen Shane photo)

 

Kerr’s decision to stop renting the variety store space has left Darcie disappointed.

 

“I was a little upset about it,” she says. “I would have stayed as long as I could.”

 

Now that she can’t stay any longer, she says she doesn’t plan to move the business elsewhere. “It’s time for me to have a change.”

 

She is set to work for her father at Dar-Lyn Pools & Spas. The handful of people she employs have other jobs to fall back on or they plan to go away to school soon, she says.

 

As she goes to help a customer at the cash Lynda puts away the photo album.

 

“Well, when one door closes another will open,” she says.


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