If you ask anyone who knows me what is my most recognizable characteristic, besides my shoes…. they would most likely answer “Stacey knows everyone!” I have to admit that I am very proud of how many people I know, and that they are mostly from my hometown of Brantford.
I have never for even a fleeting moment thought that I wanted to leave Brantford. It’s as though the Grand River flows through my veins. I had a very fun and interesting childhood, although I never really ventured far from home. Our family vacations only took us as far as Florida to Disneyland or Kingston and Ottawa to visit relatives. However I never seem to run out of stories to tell.
As a young girl my parents owned small family businesses. One of which was a Christian Bookstore called The Ark that was in the Brantford Mall back in the day. My Dad had a Furniture store called Cox’s furniture that was on Erie Ave at a time when you could drive right down Market Street to get there, before driving into the Eaton Market Square. Besides those two businesses, as I entered my teen years my parents also owned the Hallmark Store when the Eaton Market Square opened in the 80’s, and my Mother has had a few different Home Interiors stores over the years.
My sister Angie and I can both tell you of the fun we had growing up in family businesses, although we were probably oblivious to the blood sweat and tears that our parents put into them. Other kids may have had horseback riding lessons, but Angie and I had a pair of “runaway” mechanical horses that were in their coral just outside the bookstore. We would spend hours having fun pretending to be cowgirls. When other kids whose moms worked had to have a bag lunch, my sister and I could walk down the street from our school to meet up with our mom at the store. It was really cool getting to go to Lil’ Julies for a Pogo and a Pineapple Julie, and the nice lady who ran the Butt’s n Bows would usually treat Angie and I to a Kinder Egg. And what other kids got to use the private washrooms!!
When we would visit our Dad at the furniture store, the man who owned the building used to own a hardware store, so he stored a lot of old inventory in the basement. Well, two little girls could make a lot of really cool Barbie stuff out of some old chain and cardboard triangles. Again, while Mom and Dad worked away making ends meet, my sister and I were happy to be there, and had lots of fun. Never realizing that it wasn’t the “norm” to be playing where our parents worked.
I can remember kids at school thinking that it was cool that my parents owned businesses, and that we must be rich!! I remember thinking that the kids that went to Mexico for March break were the rich ones!! It’s funny what we perceive as “rich”. Now when I look back on my childhood and what it was like to have family businesses, I realize just how “rich” we were! Its not the life for everyone, but for ours it worked. It enabled my parents to provide a livelihood for themselves and we were still able to spend lots of time together as a family. Some of the most special memories I have from growing up are helping my parents with the preparations of Christmas Open Houses. Our parents took us to the trade shows to help pick out some of the new inventory for the stores. How many kids had a room of 100 Lazyboy chairs to recline up and down on, and had a library of books to read at their fingertips?
I know so many wonderful people in this town, and I know that most of them I have met through the years at these businesses. The ladies that adorned my children with beautiful outfits and handmade blankets when they were born, were those I met when I as an adult and worked with my mother. I run into wonderful people everyday that remember me helping at my parents shops.
I am also honored to know so many wonderful small business owners in Brantford. I understand the hard work that goes into turning that key everyday, not only to provide a service to our community but also to provide for their families. A family business means just that; it’s the whole family that participates and contributes to its success. Although most of the small business owners never make it “rich”, there are a lot of benefits to spending time with their families, and meeting amazing people that money just cannot buy.