(PHOTO: Tim Laplante is retiring after 47 years in the grocery business. Photo by Barry Gray.)
After nearly five decades in the grocery business, the owner of the Stittsville Sobeys is getting ready to retire.
Tim Laplante, 63, has owned the Sobeys on Carp Road in Stittsville since it opened five years ago. He says he’ll retire at the end of the fiscal year due to long-term health issues, on recommendation from his doctors.
He told StittsvilleCentral.ca it’s a bittersweet feeling for him to say goodbye to the business after so many years.
“It’s 50/50… I need to do what I need to do, and I’ve been in the business for a long time,” he said, “… It’s kind of unfortunate. It’s a great store, great team.”
Laplante’s long career spans 47 years and 21 different stores. He was 15 and attending high school in Peterborough when he landed his first job in 1968, packing parcels for pickup at a store owned by Dominion, a now-defunct supermarket chain. He was paid the minimum wage at the time, $1.00, and still remembers being paid in cash every Thursday.
When he graduated from high school, he was offered his first full-time job for Dominion in a nearby town. Over the years, he also worked in Oshawa, Barrie and Orillia until being promoted to his first management position at the age of 21.
When he was 27 he entered into his first franchise, a Loeb IGA in Ogilvie. He kept taking opportunities to buy franchises over the years. Although the Stittsville Sobeys was his fifth and final store, it isn’t his favorite. That honor goes to a Meadowlands Loeb he opened a few years after his first IGA. Laplante said he’s particularly proud of the Meadowlands location, which he build from the ground up into the second-highest performing store in the company.
In 2011 he opened the Stittsville Sobeys, the only one he currently owns. The franchise agreement for the store will be transferred to Dennis Hanson, manager of the March Road Sobeys in Kanata, at the end of the current fiscal year.
As a business owner Laplante was heavily involved in the community, both through Sobeys and by sitting on the Stittsville Village Association board up until last fall. He says he’ll withdraw from his involvement as he transitions into the retired life and isn’t sure what he’ll do next. “I truly don’t know,” he said of his plans, “…I have serious health issues which I need to deal with right now.”
Looking back, he says he’ll miss the people he worked with the most. “I don’t have employees,” Laplante said, “I just have team members. We have 125 team members.”
Laplante’s biggest priorities as an owner was to ensure the store is a welcoming, positive place for both employees and shoppers. He says his store is a place where every visitor is greeted warmly and treated as more than just a customer, repeating his longtime mantra; “We don’t have shoppers, we have Mrs. Jones.”