Not very long ago, each hamlet in North Grenville had their own local General Store at the heart of the community, giving a sense of identity and a place to meet friends and neighbours to swap gossip and news. Once those stores closed, something went from the village and there was a slow decline in local life and activity. Kemptville almost went the same way. Once, Prescott Street had two major stores, Sammy Lecker’s on the corner of Water Street, and the Red & White store facing Asa Street and Clothier Street where Leabourne Elliot had the first supermarket in town. Later, Family World kept the general store identity going.
When the downtown lost the retail grocery stores, there was a danger that the centre of Kemptville would decline as the hamlets had, and that very nearly happened. What has saved the main settlement of North Grenville from that fate has a very great deal to do with the B&H store. Not only has it kept a major grocery store downtown, bringing in shoppers to an area that would otherwise have little to offer in that regard, it has provided a location for the Farmers market, the Salvation Army store, and a number of other businesses to grow and prosper.
Inside the store, space is made for local meat producers, local egg producers, local dairy products, and so many other local brands which thrive and have a market that might otherwise have been lost.
And so, this issue of the Times brings to a conclusion our celebration of sixty years of the B&H, the Beveridge family, and everything they have contributed to the life of North Grenville. It is always such a positive thing to mark the anniversary of any local business, given how difficult it can be for such an enterprise to survive more than a short time in any economy. But sixty years is something special, especially when those decades have included important, even vital support for everything local, not just commercial operations, but social events, service clubs, and fundraisers of all kinds.
The B&H, based on the vision of founding partner Keith Beveridge, and the next generation of Jim and Judy with the contribution of third generation Andrew, has given North Grenville in general, and Kemptville in particular, a different template for retail grocery and community involvement than is to be found in big box store operations. And the B&H has had to weather some major changes in how retail operated over the sixty years. The rise of the shopping mall revolutionised things and marked the end of most smaller stores. The Beveridge family moved with the times, adapting to changing environments and greater competition by successfully finding their own niche in the market.
Shopping malls require what are called anchor stores to build the smaller stores around, and the B&H has been the anchor store of Kemptville, becoming an economic driver for downtown and maybe even saving Old Town Kemptville from becoming the ghost town to which so many other older town centres have been reduced. That’s something worth celebrating sixty years for!