Tamara Bondy is joined behind the counter by Brian Plume as she scoops an ice cream cone. The three, along with Don Plume, have purchased the Holstein General Store which has always been known for its large ice cream cones. Photo by Lynne Turner
BY LYNNE TURNER FOR SOUTHGREY.CA — Brian Plume and partner Tamara Bondy, his cousin Don Plume and partner DeeDee Eurig, are the new owners of the store in the tiny hamlet of Holstein in the Township of Southgate.
Brian Plume's parents, John and Shirley Plume, who owned the store from 1962 to 1980. Supplied photo
For Brian Plume, owner of Plume’s Main Street Interiors in Mount Forest, buying the Holstein General Store is truly a homecoming. His parents, John and Shirley Plume, purchased the store in July of 1962, a month before Brian was born, and owned it until 1980. He and his siblings literally grew up in the living quarters attached to the store. Brian, who played hockey on a team with his cousin Don, was the one who fired a puck through the living room door. It was from his parents’ store that he stole his first pack of cigarettes (although he is quick to point out that he hasn’t smoked in years) and it was also at the store where he had his first job, sorting bottles and keeping the pop cooler filled.
“They’re going to let me do that again,” he says of his three business partners.
Brian’s reaction when Don proposed the foursome consider purchasing the Holstein General Store was a resounding “absolutely not”. Don broached the subject on a weekend get-away to wine country.
“I’m at the point in my life where I didn’t want to work longer hours for less pay,” said Brian.
However, Tamara liked the idea and talked it up to Brian on the way home from Niagara-on-the-Lake. In a second vehicle, DeeDee was also agreeing with Don that it would be a good idea.
“I thought it was a good idea and could be a lot of fun,” Tamara, a personal lender at the Kindred Credit Union in Mount Forest said. “And it comes full circle for Brian.”
DeeDee has quit her job with the VON to manage the store. Several yeas ago she was office manager for the Mount Forest District Chamber of Commerce. The other three plan to keep their jobs, but help out at the store, along with two part-time staff.
Brian Plume, Tamara Bondy and DeeDee Eurig stand in front of the Holstein General Store. Don Plume was absent for the photo. Photo by Lynne Turner
The store has a wide inventory – truly a general store – and is open seven days a week – Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Famous in the past for its large ice cream cones, and a bench out front where people sit to enjoy the treats and watch the world go by, the foursome are pleased to announce they’re still scooping Chapman’s Ice Cream.
Plans are underway to reinstate a “coffee klatch” , mainly for senior men who used to congregate at the store daily to drink coffee and solve the world’s (or at least Southgate’s) problems. A Mennonite woman south of Mount Forest is providing home-baking on Thursday and Saturday mornings and the group is in talks with the board of health for the red-light to provide light lunches.
The sign out front wishing locals “happy birthday” or “happy anniversary” or simply urging them to “have a good day” is back.
DeeDee Eurig, in addition to managing the Holstein General Store, is the town's new post mistress. Photo by Lynne Turner
The Holstein Post Office is also located in the general store with both DeeDee and Tamara taking four days of intense training.
“There’s a lot more to the post office than stamps,” DeeDee says.
The Holstein General Store has also applied to be a LCBO outlet, the same as the general store in Ayton.
The four new owners spent many weekends travelling to general stores throughout the area, seeing what “seemed to be working and what didn’t.” They were particularly impressed with the booming general stores in Neustadt and Ayton. They are hoping that the Holstein General Store will incorporate all the best practices of these locations.
A grand opening will be held at a later date. Just days after the foursome took over the store, the main street through Holstein was closed while the bridge there is being replaced. Having to detour to get to the store, though, hasn’t stopped well-wishers from dropping in.
“Holstein is a vibrant community and we are glad to be here,” Brian says, giving as examples the ever-busy Egremont Optimist Club, the non-motorized Santa Claus parade, the Holstein Drama Group and Love’s Sugar Bush, home of Maplefest each spring and a destination for many, many weddings.
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