A downtown Guelph business isn’t on the verge of closing; instead closing for good at the beginning of March.
On The Verge at 5 Quebec St. has been a quirky, unique shop selling funny birthday cards, colourful kitchen gadgets, magnets with sarcastic comments on them and more. It’s closing up shop after 25 years.
“It’s very eclectic. That's for sure. I think it's basically an extension of myself,” said owner Cathy Cole.
The shop is what she calls “hardcore local.” Along with many Canadian designers, local Guelph artists, jewellery makers and craftspeople had their items for sale at the store too.
“I think because we really stayed true to our roots. I typically stayed true to Downtown Guelph. I never did open an online shop. It was definitely brick and mortar,” said Cole.
She comes from a long line of Downtown Guelph business owners. Her grandfather James “Jimmy” Brohman used to own Palace Pool and Billiards on Wyndham Street. Her aunts Betty and Joanne Brohman had a hair salon on Quebec Street called The Rose Room Beauty Parlour. Cole got her start at 18-years-old at her cousin Jackie Daniels’ shop Harmony Crafts.
Cole remembers other businesses that have come and gone in Guelph. She said it’s time for her store to close.
She doesn’t know what’s next for her but it probably won’t be retail. All she needs now is a break. People don’t realize running your own business is a 24/7 job, she said.
Cole enjoyed the socialization of working retail but she’s looking for something where she can move around and be in different places.
Last Friday afternoon the store was bustling with patrons picking up sunglasses, tea towels, cards and scarves as they browsed.
It takes a lot of heart to run a store for so many years “and just like the guts that it takes to do that. Serious guts,” said a customer.
Another deciding factor for closing was the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). It was born out of the pandemic and was an interest-free loan program for businesses. She paid back the loan.
But the relief provided through the CEBA loan “doesn’t equate to our losses,” said Cole.
“It wasn't very good times for a lot of small businesses, especially when they allowed all the big box stores to stay open. And who made record sales?” she said.
She also wants to spend time with her 93-year-old mom Fran Fairfull.
Cole thinks Downtown Guelph needs more attraction to it. When Conestoga College opens its new Guelph campus, and when the new library is built she thinks it will help but she doesn’t have time to wait.
Since announcing On The Verge will be closing she’s had an overwhelming response. A few people have stopped by and cried about it.
Holding back tears she said didn’t realize how much this place meant to people.
She once had the daughter of Harold “Mickey” Migliarini, owner of Mickey’s Hardware come in. The hardware shop was a business at 5 Quebec St. from 1961 to 1972. His daughter said the basement stairs are the same. She used to pop over on her lunch break from school and sit at the counter while her dad worked in the basement.
Cole has his photo up and recreated it with herself outside the store.
On The Verge has been at 5 Quebec St. for the last 10 years, prior it was at two locations also downtown.
Cole’s former dog Meadow was a regular employee. She will remember when Meadow wore a Walmart greeter tag on her collar and would give a copy of the Ontarian to anyone who walked through the door.
The space won’t be vacant for long “rumour has it” a new Guelph business will be popping up by spring, she said.
“I’m not sad about it. I’m not happy about it. It is what it is. It’s time,” said Cole. Time for her to leave Downtown Guelph and move onto the next chapter.