Build­ing cen­tre’s ma­te­ri­als put to use very close to Home

JL’s Duke Street Home Build­ing Cen­tre is now putting the fin­ish­ing touches on ren­o­va­tions

The Woolwich Observer - - VENTURE - WHIT­NEY NEIL­SON

WITH JUST A FEW fin­ish­ing touches left to go, JL’s Duke Street Home Build­ing Cen­tre, is look­ing like a newer, brighter ver­sion of its old self.

JL and Deb Belisle have been the dealer-own­ers for the Elmira build­ing cen­tre since 1996. They also op­er­ate a pair of stores in Guelph (Welling­ton Street, Grange Street).

JL ex­plains all three of them needed to be up­dated.

“We did the Guelph store in 2014. This was the next one on the slate. In 2015, we started plan­ning and ex­e­cuted last year. And we did the Grange Street store last Novem­ber and it’s just com­plet­ing now,” JL said.

The build­ing was stripped to the bare walls in­side and out. They took out all the floor­ing and ceil­ing tiles out, and brought in new light fix­tures, dry­wall, and floor­ing tiles.

When they stripped the build­ing, they took the sid­ing and the cladding off. All of the orig­i­nal doors and win­dows from when the build­ing was Beaver Lum­ber are still in place, they’re just sand­wiched be­tween the walls.

“For the out­side we stripped down all the old sid­ing, we did some in­su­la­tion and re­cladded it all. It’s ba­si­cally a new build­ing in an old shell,” JL said.

They’re in the same build­ing that’s been there since 1876. It was owned by a va­ri­ety of build­ing com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing N.M. Bearinger Lim­ited, The Elmira Plan­ing Mill Com­pany Lim­ited, and Beaver Lum­ber. Beaver Lum­ber was pur­chased by Home Hard­ware in 2000.

They have an as­sort­ment of old pho­tos of the build­ing, which they plan to re­print larger and dis­play in the store.

“There’s a lot of his­tory to the place,” JL said.

They just have some fin­ish­ing touches to add to the build­ing be­fore it’s of­fi­cially fully ren­o­vated.

Rick Lack­ovic, JL’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, says the build­ing needed struc­tural and cos­metic up­dates.

Lack­ovic says the store has been com­pletely re­mer­chan­dized, and re­com­put­er­ized, as well as de­signed to make it eas­ier for cus­tomers to get in and out and ac­cess prod­uct. The ren­o­va­tions have been in the plans for five years.

“The one thing that we are very cog­nizant of is our Men­non­ite com­mu­nity and I’m re­ally try­ing to reach out to them,” Lack­ovic said.

In that vein, they’re plan­ning to set up a wa­ter­ing sta­tion for the horses to get a drink of wa­ter when they’re tied up out­side with the bug­gies. It’s al­ready been or­dered and just needs to be hooked up be­fore the sum­mer heat sets in.

“Last sum­mer when we were do­ing the ren­ova-

tions we were watch­ing the horses and we would carry out every now and again a bucket of wa­ter for the horses,” JL said.

They’re also go­ing to ded­i­cate one of their sheds as a shel­ter for the horses. They would have built a shel­ter for them, but be­cause the prop­erty is in a flood­plain, it wouldn’t be easy to get a build­ing per­mit.

They would like to also have a mini-farm­ers’ mar­ket set up in front of the store in the morn­ing on Wed­nes­days. They’re work­ing to make that a pos­si­bil­ity with lo­cal Men­non­ites who’d like to sell their goods.

So far, cus­tomers are lov­ing the new look of the store.

“We get a lot of com­ments that we’ve en­larged the store, but it’s the same,” Deb said of the floor space.

As part of the ren­o­va­tions they’ve tripled the as­sort­ment of goods. They went from just un­der 7,000 items to more than 20,000 items in stock.

“Cus­tomers ex­pect to be able to come in and find the item that they want. In the old days it was kind of okay to spe­cial or­der items and have it for them in a cou­ple of days, but it’s not the way to do busi­ness right now,” JL said.

The store is open now and they’re hold­ing their of­fi­cial grand open­ing on May 5 and 6. They’ll have a spe­cial flyer com­ing out in con­junc­tion with that. Mayor Sandy Shantz will do a rib­bon cut­ting on May 5. The char­ity BBQ will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 6. The pro­ceeds will go to Wool­wich Com­mu­nity Ser­vices.

[WHIT­NEY NEIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Deb and JL Belisle, dealer-own­ers of the Duke Street Home Build­ing Cen­tre, have done ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions in­side and out to the Elmira lo­ca­tion. The build­ing it­self has a long his­tory in build­ing ma­te­ri­als, dat­ing back to 1876. They plan to re­print many of the his­tor­i­cal pho­tos from the build­ing’s for­mer life to dis­play in the store.

[WHIT­NEY NEIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Store man­ager Sara Til­cox says cus­tomers ap­pre­ci­ate the changes to the store, in­clud­ing tripling the prod­ucts avail­able in store. They’ll hold their grand re-open­ing May 5 and 6, but they’re open for busi­ness now.

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