Q1: Today you wanted to talk about stores that have stood the test of time and have been open a long time, a really long time – an entire century!
I have so much admiration for stores that stand the test of time. It is so hard to be in business in the retail sector and to survive through generations of changing styles, language issues, population shifts and recessions, that these stores deserve kudos.
Q2: What are some of the obstacles they have had to overcome to last this long?
There are so many things that retailers seem to think are necessary to take into consideration these days to operate a store – merchandising their wares, buying the right mix of products, the flow of traffic in and around the store, the way things are presented to grab the buyer’s attention, the amount of air and space in the store, the price points to set, colors to influence you, the right music to put you in the mood to buy, and on and on.
Q3: Is there a key thing you might say that links the different kinds of stores that have survived?
When stores are run by head offices and the owners are not there with their ear to the ground, it’s like the game of “Broken Telephone”. The retail shoppers may be looking for one thing, but the store’s buyers are ordering out of a different catalogue. There is a lag between the customer’s wants and what the store stocks.
And probably most importantly, most stores that are open this long are family businesses. In order to keep food in the fridge and a roof over their heads, every single customer who walks in that door is crucial to them, so they must treat them right, listening to their needs and solving problems positively so they will come back again and again.
Q4: What types of stores have made it this far?
Another thing to mention is that each of these businesses is in a niche market, and one in which there has always been a need:
Made-to-measure coffee has brought java lovers to Union Coffee, a Montreal institution since 1910. Owner Stephan Khoury, says they try to make customers feel at home. It’s so comfortable, they want to come back, hang out at the coffee bar and chat”.
This wholesaler roasts the coffee right here, so you can choose one or custom blend from amongst the espresso, melange maison (regular and strong), french press, Kenya, Panama, Columbia Supremo, Fair Trade, decaf and Swiss washed decaf.
Those who like flavors can buy or one of the 30 flavored syrups (vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, etc.) to add in. Coffee related products like iced cappuccino, or chai latte concentrate now line the shelves.
Free delivery is offered for 5 pounds or more. They sell espresso machines (Saeco, Rancilio, Pavoni, Breville, Quick Mill, Jura, La Spaziale) and teapots, too. Repairs to these machines are available.
Location: 148 Jean-Talon ouest
Hours: Mon-Fri 8-5:30, Sat 9-3
Don’t be put off by the location – it’s only 15 minutes across the Mercier bridge, and the sheer volume (100,000 sq. ft.) of merchandise at Tapis Lanctot is worth the ride. The Lanctot business has been around for 127 years; Now they sell floating and hardwood floors (look for the bargain bins starting at $.89) including condo solutions, ceramic tiles (starting at $1.25), about 500 area rugs, carpeting, vinyl flooring (lots of remnants too).
Denis Lanctot told me that one thing that was impressed upon them from their elders (besides honesty and respect) when growing up in the business, was to look to the future and see what is coming. The store started out as a general store, saw the beginnings of the automobile, changed merchandise, saw shopping centers, changed direction, etc. etc. This generation built a warehouse building to include other home-oriented vendors.
They’re known for choice and service, and their prices are low all year round. Other vendors are inside their building selling wallpaper, paint, bedding, blinds, furniture, kitchen cabinets, plumbing, windows and doors.
Location: 148 Boyer, St Isadore
Hours: Regular plus Sun 11-5
Other location: Longueuil, 2025 ch. Chambly (450-647-1571)
After you’ve stepped through the Art Nouveau portals of Archambault, Montreal’s oldest (1896) and largest music emporium, you can feast upon 4 floors and 45,000 sq. ft. of musical supplies, from sheet music and a grand salon of pianos to a full store of CD’s, DVD’s, books, games, office supplies and gifts
Locations: Main store, 500 Ste-Catherine est
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:30-9, Sat 9-5, Sun 10-5
Other locations: Place des Arts, 175A Ste-Catherine o. (514-281-0367); Laval, 1545 boul. Le Corbusier (450-978-9900); Brossard, 2151 boul. Lapiniere (450-671-0801); 7500 Les Galeries d’Anjou (514-351-2230); 677 Ste-Catherine o. (514-875-5975); Mega-Centre Ste-Dorothee (450-719-2020).