John and Penny Shapperd nearly ended up in Merrit when they started looking into buying a business more than three decades ago. But sometimes things don’t work out for a reason.
“We were looking at the store in Merrit, and I got a call back saying we didn’t have enough money for it,” recalled John. “I’m so glad things worked out the way they did. We, even after 32 years, still love Golden.”
“You don’t often say this, but it’s a very good thing we didn’t have enough money,” added Penny.
The couple, who after 32 years owning what is now TRU Hardware, are finally retiring. And they couldn’t have imagined all those years ago where life would take them.
Originally from the UK, John was recruited at Beaverhouse in London by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and had his first posting in Fort Smith, NWT. It was his second posting, however, that would really change his life.
“My second post was Yellowknife, and that’s where Penny was raised,” said John. “She would work in The Bay in the summers when she was home from college, and this year she worked in the grocery office where I was produce manager. The rest became history, we were married in Yellowknife in the summer of ’69.”
The family moved around quite a bit in those early years, often living only a couple years in each place. It started to take it’s toll, and John and Penny decided it was time to make a change.
“The kids were getting tired of moving around every two years…They were in Grade 3 and 6, and it was stressful for them breaking their friendships every time,” said Penny.
John came to Golden first on his own in a tent trailer, living at the campground until he could find a place suitable for the family. It took a few tries, but they eventually found their home in 1985 when they bought property in the Selkirk Heights area, which had barely started developing at the time. They still live there today.
It took years to build the business into their own. Penny, who was a teacher and librarian by trade, also dedicated herself entirely to the store…a sacrifice that has certainly paid off.
“It’s very gratifying to see what we’ve built here,” said John.
You can still see the Shapperds helping out in the store, trying to make the transition as seamless as possible for the new owners. But they are definitely looking forward to retirement.
“We’ll actually be able to enjoy our house and our yard. It will be a pleasure to stay home and relax,” said Penny.
“They gave us a great send-off too,” said John, who insists he’s usually a tough person to surprise. “We went outside and it was like a flashmob coming down the sidewalk. I saw people we knew, and family members. Then we saw the food, and the keg. It was really nice.”
That’s not to say that they won’t miss anything about running the store.
“We are going to miss the people, that’s for sure.”