AUTO PARTS & POPPIES
Business owner values freedom
While many don’t seem to be wearing poppies this year, it’s not an issue at John Hutchins’ auto parts business.
He won’t let people get away with being a poppy snubber.
“Please read,” says a huge sign with two poppies on it as you walk through the door of his shop in the Hwy. 10-Bovaird Dr. area. “Until Remembrance Day November 11, all invoices for parts will have a $2 fee attached. The money will be matched by Heart Lake and will be donated to the Royal Canadian Legion for disabled vets who gave to make a better and free life for us all.”
But it does not stop there. “If you find this unacceptable, you can buy your parts someplace else or come back after November 11.”
John is proud of his sign. “Dave Franks and Elliot Callan over at FL Signs also support the veterans so much they made it for me for free,” said Hutchins.
If that doesn’t encourage you to wear a poppy, maybe the two giant shepherd mastiffs — Rocky and Bully — will convince you. Actually, the dogs look menacing but seem quite friendly — not that I would ever test it.
The whole shop is old Canada personified — complete with Toronto Sun front pages pasted to the walls, including a few of my columns and ones by Michele Mandel and Mark Bonokoski. There’s also a full-page Sun ad from Conservative Values of Canada, showing a cartoon of Premier Kathleen Wynne putting a stranglehold around GTA homeowners.
“We are for the little guy,” said John.
Next to a shelf full of old car radios, there was even a Toronto Sun front page picture taken by Dave Abel of John and his son, Steve, from the time they arrested some guys who were dumb enough to break into their shop. The politically correct may not be comfortable here.
“Everybody is welcome but we call it as it is around here,” said John, with a grin. “That is our right, thanks to the soldiers who died.”
John, 66, has done this very thing for the last five years and most years sends about $500 to Brampton’s Major William Dwight Sharpe Branch #15.
His own father and grandfather fought in the world wars and he has served many veterans from other wars, including Korea and Afghanistan.
“It’s important to help these veterans,” he said.
The big question: Has anybody ever refused to buy a poppy?
“Just once,” he said laughing. “It was a couple of years ago.”
A man came in and said, “Does this really mean if I won’t buy a poppy he won’t sell me the part for my car?” John replied: “I told him it does.”
The guy wouldn’t contribute.
“He left without the part.” But John was not mad. “His freedom to do that is what those guys fought and died for. He didn’t have to buy a poppy and I didn’t have to sell him a part.”
He added he is heartened to find out that some of the people who embrace his poppy push the most are new Canadians.
“They appreciate we went to war so we don’t have wars here,” he said.
It seems in Toronto this year, many don’t seem to appreciate that and need reminding.
But there is no need for reminders of what Remembrance Day means out at John Hutchins Heart Lake Auto Parts in Brampton.
John Hutchins, owner of Heart Lake Auto Parts in Brampton, helps vets by adding a $2 fee, which he matches, for a poppy.