After more than 71 years in business, Hindle’s Gifts, Cameras and Stationery store is closing. Owners Doug and Anna Hindle will be retiring.
Doug said the move to retirement is bittersweet.
“We’ve made the decision and the time has come,” said Doug.
He said his parents opened the store in June of 1949 at its current location on Marine Avenue. Doug has been working full time at the store for 47 years and when he was a child, he can remember the store being partitioned by a wall with a living area in behind. He can recall peering through the pegboard and seeing people shopping. Upstairs is where his grandparents, on his father’s side, used to live.
Prior to opening Hindle’s, Doug’s parents operated a store called Food Land, which was a pioneer food store on Marine Avenue where Dave Garling’s law office now stands. Doug said this was long before the advent of the major food chains and his parents worked at that for about four years, right after the war.
“They decided to do something different and they wanted to open a gift store,” said Doug.
They moved to the current Hindle’s location on Marine Avenue, bought the property and built the store, which has now supported two generations.
Doug said Powell River is a wonderful, small community in which to do business.
“The town, the community as a whole is fantastic,” he said. “We’re lucky to live here. We have friendly people and they become not just your customers, they become your friends.
“We’ve developed so many friends over the decades that started out as our customers.”
In terms of the business, one of the cornerstones of the Hindle’s corporate philosophy has been customer service.
“Any retail store in North America going forward has got to be competitive and service-oriented,” said Doug. “If you are not competitive with online or whatever is out there, then you are, in my opinion, pretty well dead in the water. You’ll have a really tough time.”
Doug said he is a supporter of shopping locally, and while he understands that people are going to shop out of town, he said it’s also important for the community to support its own stores.
“What I see now is stores disappearing and it really worries me,” he said. “Suddenly we don’t have a bookstore or an art supply store or many different types of stores in Powell River. In North America, not just in Powell River, it is going to be interesting moving forward, seeing what happens.
“While there are many benefits to online stores, I believe we need every element in our communities. We need our churches, we need our hospitals, we need our police and we need stores. These stores support the community amazingly.”
Anna said Hindle’s has been very diversified over the decades and it wasn’t stuck in just one area of retail.
“We’ve always tried to be updated with what’s out there,” said Anna. “We have always tried to research that and bring things to Powell River. In a small community you need to be diversified to survive.”
Doug said over the years the store has tried to supply quality products instead of low-priced stock.
“We’re trying to provide service, quality and good lines, like Hallmark, Samsonite, Royal Doulton and Royal Albert.”
Doug said business never stops changing.
“It’s a living, breathing thing,” he added. “You constantly have to adapt and change. That’s what makes it exciting.
“Anna and I are lucky to have lived in this wonderful community and been able to come to work and enjoy it. We’re so lucky to have enjoyed helping people. That’s the secret, at least in my opinion. There’s a huge reward in that.”
It will be difficult to leave it behind in retirement, said Doug.
“We love coming to work,” he added.
The Hindles do not have a set time for closing the business. They don’t have to be out by a specific time because they own the building. They will be having a big sale to sell their stock down.
After closing the business, the couple is looking forward, when the time is right, to travelling. Anna was born in Italy and came to Canada when she was three. She has never been back.
“That’s high on our priority list once we get past this thing going on in the world,” said Doug.
They are looking forward to spending time with grandchildren. They also have a big, beautiful yard they love and will spend time attending to it.
“We don’t want to be idle,” said Doug.
They also hope to help in the community. Anna said if there are things they can do, she’s looking forward to that.
“We’re at that stage of life where it’s time to do other things,” she added.