MOUNT FOREST – For many years shoppers have been able to go to MacDonald’s Home Appliances in Mount Forest and know they were getting great customer service from owners Audrey and Dennis MacDonald and their staff.
And before that, shoppers knew they would get that same great service from Dennis’ father Glenn and his staff.
And today, shoppers will be happy to know that they will still get that same great service at MacDonald’s Home Appliances, however, it just won’t be coming from Audrey and Dennis.
The MacDonalds turned over the keys to the business on Feb. 8 to new owners Dan and Wanda Foertsch of Mount Forest.
“Nothing is going to change,” said Wanda. “Customers can expect the same level of service from Dan and I that they received from Audrey and Dennis.”
“At least we hope we can live up to the standard they set,” she added with a laugh. “There are some butterflies in our stomachs right now, but we’re very excited about the challenges that lie ahead, and getting to know the customers.”
The deal to sell the business to the Foertsches came about casually, said Wanda.
“We have been looking to buy a business in Mount Forest for the past 10 years or so,” she said. “I was in one day buying a fridge, and casually asked Dennis if he had ever thought about selling the business… About a year and a half later I was back in the store and told Dennis we were ready to do it.”
This is the first foray into business ownership for Dan and Wanda. Wanda has retail experience in the grocery sector, but has spent the past 18 years in the manufacturing industry working at Dana Long in Mount Forest. Dan has worked in heavy equipment operation. The couple have four children – two boys and two girls – as well as four grandchildren (three girls and one boy).
“I missed interacting with the public every day, helping customers,” said Wanda. “I had been leaning towards going back to retail for a while.”
“I was just dragged along for the ride,” quipped Dan.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
Wanda said that all six employees are staying.
“It will be business as usual,” said Wanda. “Same staff, same phone number, and same name. It’s an amazing staff. Everyone is totally dedicated and very knowledgeable about the products we carry.”
Dennis said he is confident that Dan and Wanda will be able to deliver the same level of service in the future that MacDonald’s Home Appliances is known for.
“I am happy that we can look after our customers with some fresh, new blood here,” he said of Dan and Wanda. “I’m not worried at all. They have a great group of people here to help them.”
70 YEARS ON MAIN STREET
The business, which was started by Glenn MacDonald in 1947 as MacDonald’s Hardware, has been in the family the entire 70 years it has been in operation.
“Dad was a baker in Chatsworth, and he would get up at 3 a.m. to bake. One morning he walked past the hardware store at 9 a.m. and saw the owner sitting outside the shop reading the newspaper,” said Dennis. “He then said to himself, ‘I’m going to open a hardware store.’ And that’s how Dad got into the hardware business.”
Dennis returned home from college in 1961 and joined his father in the family business, and has seen it grow from a single storefront to the large building they currently are in.
“Dad bought this building from Brian Padfield’s father Lou, and it was about a quarter of the size of what we now have,” said Dennis.
It wasn’t until Lee Thornhill, who owned the storefront next door, retired at the age of 85 that MacDonald’s was able to expand to its current size.
“He gave us first crack at the building, and we decided to go for it,” said Dennis.
MacDonald’s was one of the first 100 Home Hardware stores – “I was there at the Flying Dutchman in Kitchener the night we voted to create Home Hardware,” said Dennis – and up until nine years ago, Dennis continued to sell hardware at the store.
“We were looking at getting out of the hardware and going strictly to appliances. It was at the hardware show that Marty Young approached us and mentioned he heard we were looking to sell our hardware,” said Dennis. “I told him we were, but that I was worried about the staff that we would have to part with because we didn’t need as many employees at that time. Marty said he would give them work at his store if they wished to join him. Then we had a deal.”
Over the years Dennis said he sold hardware, lawn mowers, ran a skate trade program, and all of the other merchandise associated with being a Home Hardware store.
“There wasn’t much we didn’t sell in this store,” he said.
Although the deal was made official on Feb. 8, the following day Dennis and Audrey were back at the store celebrating with many of their long-time, loyal customers with coffee, cake and ice cream.
“I just want to thank all of our customers for all the years of their loyal support,” said Dennis. “Most of our sales were by word of mouth – customers telling their friends and family – because our staff have been so good at serving our customers.”
“We’ve been very lucky to have dedicated customers all these years,” he added. “There are some of our customers who are the fourth generation of their family to deal with us.”
Now that Audrey and Dennis are retired, they say they aren’t worried about keeping busy.
“We’ve got a cottage near Owen Sound that we hope to spend some more time at, some work to do around the house, and our two kids, six grandchildren and one great grandchild to spend time with,” said Dennis. “I am not too worried about finding ways to stay busy. We’ll just take life one day at a time and enjoy it.”
MacDonald Home Appliances is located at 117 Main St. N. in Mount Forest, and offers new and some used appliances, as well as service and warranty work. For more information call 519-323-1731.