In 1996, Gord & Jane Bellingham were a bit bored with retirement from long-time government jobs. Almost on a whim, they purchased the tiny smoke shop then sharing a wall with Royal Bank at the far north end of Bower Mall. At that time, the 1-2 person shop was filled with magazines, newspapers, snacks, soft drinks & lots of gift items completely unrelated to tobacco. The shop was always self-supporting, but Gord & Jane quickly recognized the potential for growth by specializing in high-end tobacco products along with careful selected, quality gifts. Luck would play a part in that there was a huge cigar boom around that same time, so we concentrated on growing from a small cigar cabinet to a large well-stocked walk-in humidor while completely remodeling the store and eventually getting rid of magazines and all merchandise no longer fitting in the store’s new style. We became the town’s only Ticketmaster Outlet, which we kept active until 2011, when most ticket sales were done by phone or on the internet.
When the Mall added the Sears wing, the shop moved down the hall where we once again remodeled, incorporating new Federal Laws requiring tobacco products not be visible to the public. We chose to enclose the store, allowing only customers over 18 to enter thereby allowing us to continue full display of all tobacco. Business continued to prosper through the years, and it became apparent that we had outgrown the space we were in. In 2013, the decision was made to move out of the Mall and into the current location, allowing over three times the space to expand. We completely remodeled the space to accommodate all retail needs, plus allowed for a huge backroom loading & storage space, a large area for merchandise stock, an employee area complete with refrigerator, individual lockers, and a comfortable place to rest during breaks and a state of the art office space that also serves as the hub of our communications and point of sale processes. We take great pride in the clean, artful display of our merchandise, the open area for customers to shop, and the efficient use of all the space provided in the new store.
Since the move, we have enjoyed increased sales and many, many compliments on our choice of location and the added space for people to comfortably view our selection and visit with our knowledgable and friendly staff . We are constantly hearing compliments about our staff – they know the products in the store and how to use them. We have been very blessed in that our key staff members truly want to be a part of our team. They enjoy being part of the business and it certainly shows in how they interact with each other and with customers. As newer staff are hired, it is Important that this philosophy carries out and we carefully monitor the team’s effectiveness.
Gord & Jane’s daughter, Andee, has always worked part-time in the business but as her family grew older she participated more and eventually took over as manager, allowing Gord & Jane to take lengthy vacations and eventually move out of the day to day operation entirely. Andee and her husband Nigel are now shareholders in the business, continuing to not only run the operation, but more often than not, participating in sales as needed. Their daughter, Taylor is also a part-time employee, making the business a 3-generation affair! Gord passed away in 2013, however Jane continues to oversee the operation and shares responsibility for the bookkeeping with Nigel.
We look forward to continuing to provide Central Alberta with quality merchandise and top of the line service far into the future. We have appreciated Red Deer’s support in our growth and our efforts to adhere to Federal and Provincial laws and requirements. Watch us grow !