Their slogan says it all, “find your fun at BC Shaver & Hobbies.” But what’s with the name? Do you get a shave and put together a model airplane?
“To begin with,” says Garnett Rancier, owner of BC Shaver & Hobbies, “it started as a shop for shaving equipment in 1952.” As the story goes, later in the ‘50s the owner had a buddy with a son who was in trouble and needed to raise some money. He was allowed to show his train set in the window and sell it. It created enough interest that the shop started selling train sets and soon expanded into other hobby supplies. Garnett is the fifth owner and has worked in the store since he was 15 years old!
This venerable shop on Fort Street near Douglas is Victoria’s favourite source for hobby supplies (75 per cent of the business) and still carries and repairs quality shavers. But with all good things, there is an end in sight. At least the family running the business. Garnett has decided to sell the shop, retire and spend more time with family. In the meantime, he is having a retirement liquidation sale; aiming to shut down by the end of May if the store does not sell.
“It’s been a fun and enjoyable way to earn a living,” Garnett says. Anyone who wants to see people from all walks of life – from professionals to panhandlers, and from around the globe – all with a love of hobbies – would do well in this business. As an example, just this week a fellow flew in from England, arrived at 9 a.m. and was in the store by 10 a.m.! That’s devotion. They haven’t gotten into online sales but know that is a very good opportunity.
What do they sell? More likely, what don’t they sell! There are radio-controlled cars, boats, airplanes, helicopters and parts, diecast cars, aircraft, trains and train sets, rockets and engines. It’s a hobbyist’s dream world.
It will be an emotional time, walking out the front door for the last time, Garnet acknowledges. What he will miss the most is how the store brought people together, from multi-generations of returning customers.
“You would especially see this at Christmas time when people come in to buy model sets for kids from eight to 80, knowing the excitement that opening these gifts will bring and the passion for hobbies that is born.”
The relationships with customers are most valuable. Hobbies are a way to take a break from life’s stresses, fill a void when there’s too much time on your hands, and just get a great sense of completion and accomplishment. Judging by the many cards, pastries and wedding invitations that Garnett and his wife Judy have received over the years – you know that this is more than a business, it’s a way of life. Just ask Garnett.