Since taking over Thompson’s Canadian Tire location May 2, Mike and Jackie Howell have gone out of their way to try and revamp the store’s reputation.
“We’re primarily focusing on getting the overall look of the store cleaned up,” said Mike. “Reopening the garden centre after a couple years of it being closed. We opened the service centre after it being closed. So we’re really trying to be the Hub of the North.”
However, the husband-wife team, whose last store management gig took place in Toronto, are also channelling their efforts into giving back to the community through charitible initiatives and campaigns.
One of their first big public events to help drive this point home was a July 8 barbecue at Lions Club Park, which was organized to promote Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart charity.
The new owners ended up raising around $8,000 for Jumpstart through this event and their own personal donations, an amount that will go towards helping less fortunate families in Thompson and the surrounding communities put their children into sports programs.
“Jumpstart is about getting kids to be active,” Jackie said during an interview with CHTM Radio. “It’s very important for us and it’s very close to my heart, because I believe that kids need to be active and it helps with their growth and it helps with their education and their schooling and it gives them confidence to do things.”
According to Mike, putting together events for Jumpstart, or carrying out more spontaneous gestures like handing out sandwiches to the homeless, is one of the main reasons why they decided to move to Thompson in the first place.
“We did have some other offers, but my wife and I were very determined to get to a small-knit community where we could make a difference, both in store and also with charities, as well as donations,” he told CHTM.
Even though they’ve encountered some challenges during this transitional period, Mike and Jackie said it’s comforting to know that Thompsonites are willing to offer support during these tough times.
One of the biggest setbacks took place during the evening of July 1, when a water main break flooded the store’s basement, forcing them to close down business for a couple days.
Despite the fact that it’ll be another two to four months before they fully repair this damage, Mike and Jackie said they’ll now be operating during regular store hours thanks in part to the strong response from different members of the community.
“The town has made us feel incredibly wanted and they support us and we had little girls that were bringing us sandwiches while we’re outside pumping out water in the middle of the night,” said Mike. “I had plumbers and septic people that were working 20−30 hours trying to get us open, and we could never be thankful enough for that.”
Moving forward, Mike and Jackie said they are going to continue to organize community events like last Sunday’s Jumpstart barbecue and do their best to promote a welcoming environment within the store itself.
“We encourage everybody to please stop by the store and come speak with myself or any of my staff members,” said Mike.