'It's been a great run,' Historic Dorset, Ont. general store sold to new family
DORSET, ONT. -- A trip to Muskoka wouldn't be complete without a pit-stop at Robinson's General Store in Dorset, Ont., a staple in the area that is about to come under new ownership after a century.
The Robinson family recently announced the shop's sale on social media.
"This store is the Robinson's General store, and it will be forever," said Mike Hinbest, who will take over as the new owner on May 1.
Hinbest also confirmed there would be no changes to staff.
Harry and Marguerite Robinson opened Robinson's General Store in 1921.
Over the next few decades, their son, Brad, joined the family business, stocking shelves and doing odd jobs around the store.
In the mid-50s, Brad said he told his father he was offered a position with the Hudson's Bay Company in the north and was considering taking it. That's when his life changed forever.
"He said forget that, come and stay here, and we're going through an expansion program. He said, 'By the way, tomorrow morning you're going to be the boss,'" said Brad from inside the red onion room at the general store.
Brad remained the boss for 65 years and partnered with his daughter in the 90s after contemplating selling the family business.
He said the extra help around the store gave him a boost over the next three decades.
With his daughter is now nearing retirement, Brad decided it was finally time to move on. "It's been a great run," he said.
Over the years, Robinson's General Store has employed thousands of locals, cottagers and university students.
Last week when the store posted the video on its Facebook page, dozens of former employees and customers flooded the comments thanking the Robinson's for their century-long impact on the community.
"I worked there from 13 until I was in University," said Bill Collier, a Bracebridge, Ont. resident.
While working in the shop, Collier said he built strong friendships with dozens of people and created memories that will last a lifetime. One that brings a smile to his face was Brad's whistling and what it signified if heard in the store.
"I asked him [Brad] years later about the whistling, and he said 'I always used to whistle because I never wanted to catch someone not working in the store and I never wanted to confront them.' That will tell you everything about Brad," said Bill.
The tune he whistled for decades will come to an end in a few weeks when the keys to the General Store officially switch hands.
"Mike said, 'I don't want you sitting over there twiddling your thumbs with nothing to do. I want you to come over and visit your customers," Brad said of the new owner after he mentioned retiring.
The Hinbest's hope to invite everyone back to the store this summer for a proper 100th anniversary to celebrate the impact the Robinson's had on so many lives.