Debbie Clark with her son Brandon.
BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF –
It was the year of the Calgary Winter Olympics, The Phantom of the Opera and Brian Mulroney as Canada's prime minister. It was also the year that zebra mussels were first discovered in the Great Lakes and the Eugenia power plant got an upgrade to produce a continuous 6.3 MW of power to the region.
As an insurance underwriter, Debbie Clark had no previous experience as a retail store owner. "I didn't know anything," she said. "All I had was an idea," she explained, recalling the Eugenia one-stop-shop's humble beginnings in 1988. As the Canadian economy briefly regained strength following years of overbuilding, high inflation and increasing oil prices, Top O' The Rock was born. Shortly thereafter, the nation plunged into an unexpected five-year recession.
Top O' The Rock circa 1989.
But the need for a convenience store to service the local cottagers and residents was clearly expressed and despite a tough economy, the little store held its own, having replaced an automotive repair shop in a modestly sized building just south of its current location on Grey Road 13. Its uneven floors and homemade cottage vibe made it a charming community hub and a must-stop on your way to the nearby lake or ski hills.
Having outgrown its tiny space despite a couple of renovations, construction on a new more expansive building began in 2006 on an adjacent lot to the older structure. In its brand new digs in 2007, Top O' The Rock was awarded local Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. In 2008, it won the Stars in Business Award for Company of the Year (under 15 employees). It was at around this time that Top O' The Rock became the local LCBO Agency which added greatly to it's popularity throughout the area.
Debbie has been a longstanding community volunteer and continues to throw her support behind many local initiatives. She was awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding community service in 2013. A model shop owner, she has grown the business exponentially over the years. It now provides vast selection of grocery products, gourmet hand-made pizza, healthy "to-go" meals, hand-scooped ice cream, movie rentals and of course, beer, wine and spirits too. There is an on site deli and bakery as well.
Top O' The Rock in its current location.
With her son Brandon recently taking over responsibilities as Director of Operations, Debbie attributes much of their success to a dedicated team of employees and the family atmosphere they've encouraged. Sourcing many of their products locally and making many items on-site is another reason why people keep coming back.
On Saturday, July 21, Top O' The Rock will officially celebrate 30 years with a live on-air radio remote, BBQ, door prizes, sampling and more. They are inviting everyone to visit and share in their success with a grand customer appreciation event. Stop by and wish them a happy anniversary.
The store operates seven-days-a-week with doors open at 7:30 am and closing at 9 pm Monday-Thursday, 10 pm Friday-Saturday and Sunday at 8 pm.
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