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Longtime Osoyoos business owners looking forward to new challenge in running Sears Homefront outlet
Spencer and Theresa Toepfer have proven they’re not afraid of hard work or taking on a challenge.
That’s why they’re so excited to be the proud new owners of the Sears Homefront outlet in Osoyoos.
For the past 27 years, Spencer Toepfer has been the proud owner and operator of an electronics store on Main Street in Osoyoos.
At the tender age of 18 and only days removed from graduating from Osoyoos Secondary School, he and his brother Brent purchased the old Radio Shack franchise.
That was back in 1985.
The store operated under the Radio Shack name for several years, before it changed to Circuit City. It then became The Source and eventually OS Video and Audio for the past several months.
Theresa worked as the manager of the Osoyoos Dairy Queen franchise for 10 years between 1989 and 1999, but then joined her husband to run the electronics store for the past 14 years.
With the lease on OS Video and Audio coming up for renewal at the end of November, the Toepfers were looking for a new challenge and decided two months ago to contact Sears’ management when they saw an advertisement posted in the Osoyoos Times looking for new ownership for the store in Osoyoos.
“We wanted to buy this place two years ago, but the timing wasn’t right,” said Theresa. “Management from The Source told us there would be a conflict of interest, so that was the end of that.”
When they read that the Sears store in Osoyoos was being vacated and new owners were being sought, they made a few calls and eventually worked out a deal to take over ownership.
The Toepfers got the keys last Wednesday and are looking forward to the new challenge of operating the Sears outlet in Osoyoos for many years to come.
“We’ve signed a three-year lease, with an option for two more years,” said Spencer. “We were looking for a new challenge and we’re really excited about this opportunity. We know all about the retail business and we’re excited to be working with a well-known company like Sears.”
He and his wife worked very long hours running their electronics store for the past quarter century and they are confident they will enjoy the same kind of success with Sears, he said.
“When you work for yourself, you don’t get paid by the hour,” he said. “We’re used to working very long hours and realize we’re in for more of the same by taking over this place, but it’s going to be a challenge … a challenge we welcome.”
The fact former owners Martin and Andrea Umstaetter closed the doors after joining a class action lawsuit against Sears Canada is of no concern to the Toepfers.
“That had nothing to do with us and there’s really not much more we can say about that,” said Spencer. “We believe this is a really good opportunity for us and we’re excited.”
For the next three months, the Toepfers will be running the Sears store and OS Video and Audio as they’re trying to get rid of the inventory at their electronics store.
“We’re going to keep running both businesses until our lease runs out at the audio store at the end of November,” she said. “We have a lot of inventory we really want to get rid of, so we’ll be reducing everything by 30 per cent starting this week.”
Randy Kassian, who owned the Sears Homefront outlet in Osoyoos for almost 20 years before selling it two years ago, is a good friend and has been hired by the Toepfers for the next several months as they settle in and learn all the intricacies of operating the franchise.
After more than 25 years in business in Osoyoos, Theresa said she and her husband know many of the longtime residents of this community and believe this will help make the transition from an electronics and audio store to running a Sears franchise run smoothly.
“I think we’ve proven that we’re good business people who are loyal to the people of Osoyoos,” she said. “We’re hoping all of our loyal customers at the old store are going to come in and check out what we have to offer with Sears.”
Like all Sears Homefront franchises, the primary focus will be on selling appliances and televisions, but there will also be home and garden equipment, bedroom furniture and snow removal equipment for sale.
Sears will continue to operate seven days a week with the store open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.