Scrimgeours will miss store's atmosphere - Dec. 7, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Come mid-February, Don and Lenora Scrimgeour will have officially retired from the grocery business after nearly 45 years.
The couple started in the industry locally in 1973 with Don taking over the Blyth Butcher Shop on the village’s main street. Eleven years later, the couple opened Scrimgeour’s Food Market at its current location which they sold to brothers and business partners Pragnesh and Krunal Patel last week.
Looking back on the years in the industry, both Don and Lenora say that one thing stands out: the people.
“We’ve had a lot of good employees and a lot of good memories with those employees,”Don said, adding that a lot of the stories bring back smiles and laughs.
Lenora agreed, saying that, back when the couple took over the butcher store and opened up Scrimgeour’s Food Market, times were different.
“We had a lot of good fun and things were a bit different back then,” she said.
The two look back on those memories with great fondness, saying they built a lot of good relationships with great people.
“We would dress up for Halloween and we were always taking part in the Lions Club Christmas parties and dinners,” Lenora said. “There were a lot of good times.”
The two also said that part of what made having a community store great was watching people grow in the village.
“We have had kids that used to work for us come in and say hello,” she said. “It really means a lot to us.”
Don agreed, saying that as recently as November there were people visiting who worked in the store as teenagers and have since left the village to find their place in the world.
“Kerissa van Amersfoort, Herb’s daughter, came to visit us,” he said. “She used to work for us. It’s great seeing people like that.”
Lenora said Jeff and Lisa Watson visited recently, bringing back more memories of the store and Don pointed to volunteer firefighter Mike Pawitch of Blyth who worked at the store, saying Mike’s son had recently worked there as well.
“Having fathers and sons work like that is a pretty nice memory,” he said, and Don would know, having worked with his own children and grandchildren at the store.
The visits aren’t just from previous staff, as Don explained that a former driver for a soft drink company was at the International Plowing Match earlier this year and stopped by.
“He said he couldn’t be 10 minutes away from Blyth and not come visit us,” Don said laughing. “Those kinds of connections bring back good memories.”
Staff, delivery drivers and sales people become like family, Lenora said, and that extends beyond the in-store reunions.
“When we gave notice to the staff about the store being sold, there were a few tears shed,” she said. “It’s like saying goodbye to members of the family.”
Some of the life-long friends the Scrimgeours have made include other grocery store owners from around the area and Lenora said they still have visits with them.
“We’ve made some great friendships over the years,” she said, with Don adding that many of them came from the grocery store originally being under the Knechtels brand.
While Don and Lenora took over the butcher shop in 1973, their story started years earlier when, as a teenager, Don worked in the Blyth area for Arnold and Jean Berthot after school before working for Harv and Doreen McCallum. He left the area in 1964 to work for the Dominion chain in London and was there until 1969, having married Lenora in 1967. The couple then moved to the Seaforth area where Don worked at the IGA store until 1973.
Over the years, the two have met a lot of people in the grocery business and they look forward to being able to continue those relationships after retiring.
As far as other retirement plans, Don said that he is looking forward to putting his feet up.
“Having retirement ahead of me feels great,” he said.
Lenora agreed, saying she will be happy to have Don at home so they can enjoy life together after being career grocery store owners.
The two laughed when explaining that, for the past 50 years they have been together 24 hours a day, working, at home and sleeping and they were looking forward to continuing that trend.
As far as plans for their retirement, the two said they are looking forward to time with their children and grandchildren, doing some travelling across Canada and routinely eating dinner a lot earlier than they are currently accustomed to.
Due to the time involved with running the store, the two don’t typically sit down to dinner until most other people have found their way to bed.
Last week, Don said, he was able to get home and have dinner at 6 p.m. and get out to see his grandson’s hockey game. Lenora said she couldn’t remember a time when they had enjoyed dinner so early on a Friday evening.
Spending time with their grandchildren will also be something they look forward to, though Lenora claimed she might miss the dichotomy between his home life and work life through the eyes of those same grandchildren.
“We had Poppa’s store and Grandma’s house whenever they visited,” she said with a smile.
While Lenora claims to be a bit of a homebody, the two plan on travelling, but not internationally. Don and Lenora agree that they saw plenty of the world outside of Canada when they were younger, having visited Ireland, Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and several locations in the United States.
“We would love to tour Canada a little more,” Don said. “We went down east when our children were young, but we didn’t see everything we wanted to see and we would love to visit some sites again.”
Lenora agreed, saying that, aside from travelling out east, the two also looked forward to travelling west to visit their eldest son Kevin who lives in Vancouver.
“There is a lot to see in this country and we would like to do that,” she said.
DON’S MEAT LEGACY
Don’s burgers and sausages are the stuff of legend in Huron County and beyond and when news first broke that the store was going to be sold, some people immediately began asking where they would be able to continue purchasing Don’s products.
At the store, Don began receiving orders for dozens of pounds of sausages and heard that people would be coming in to buy him out whenever he made them with the intent to freeze them.
When asked whether he would be passing on the recipe for his products, Don said he could divulge the spices but a lot of what makes his sausage and hamburgers great is the meat.
He said different people will put different cuts in, but he sticks with certain cuts and maintains a fat and lean balance.
“The spices help, but the meat is what makes or breaks them,” Don said.
Lenora agreed, saying that, before she met Don, she hated sausages and refused to eat them.
Don, however, had the magic touch when it came to choosing the right cuts and blending them just right.