‘m sure everyone in Cornwall, well the older ones of us anyway, have at one time or another stepped into Sharyn’s Pantry to purchase one of the many thousands of items that lay within the walls of this bakers and chef’s paradise. Walking up those familiar stairs one was always greeted by the familiar face of Sharyn Thompson who at the end of last year, as I was dropping off Seekers, shocked me by announcing that she was looking at retiring and hoping to sell her business by the Spring of 2024. Shocked I was, as even though Sharyn is 76 years young and a true mother figure for me and so many others, I never thought she would ever not be at Sharyn’s Pantry … but here we are, February 2024 and Sharyn really has retired, well actually both Sharyn and her husband Gary who has ran Sharyn’s Pantry right alongside his wife, even though as Sharyn says, he has been more hiding in the wings as bookkeeper and heavy item handler!!! So here’s to a Happy Retirement to Sharyn and Gary and a big warm welcome to new owners, Roxanne and Peter who I met quite a few times now and know that they are a perfect fit to continue this family business that Sharyn and Gary have nurtured for the past 43 years.
I was happy to get to know Roxanne and Peter through the Seeker’s 5 question interview that I am happy to share with you. So here we go…
1. Please tell us a bit about yourselves and what motivated you to purchase Sharyn’s Pantry, and how do you plan to carry on the legacy that the Sharyn and Gary Thompson established over the past 43 years?
We both feel that everything we have learned and experienced in our lives has brought us to this place. Peter grew up on a dairy farm and he is very familiar with all of the grains, and he is strong enough to lift the 50lb bags around! Now, Peter works in the IT realm, so working face to face with customers is a welcome change. Roxanne has done a myriad of things…everything from retail to horticulture to a degree in Law and a teaching career specializing in Special Education. She has a passion for family, gardening, wellness, community building, and we both have a strong drive to make the world a better place for all.
As customers of Sharyn’s Pantry, we immediately bonded with ”everyone’s grandmother” aka Sharyn Thompson, and we, along with so many others, were horrified by the thought of this local, family owned, community- based, neighbourhood store closing.
It is a one-of-a-kind place, like the Mom & Pop stores that we grew up with. No corporate structure, just owners who truly care about their customers and their families. After a brief discussion, the timing seemed right, and we felt that we needed to step up and walk the talk of building the world we want to live in.
We know that every community needs strong, authentic, caring bonds between its members, and our hearts are definitely in the right place. At Sharyn’s Pantry, we will continue to use a thoughtful approach to selecting high quality kitchenware, food, and health products.
We will emphasize “We Love Local” because bringing the best products to our customers will always be a priority. We love all things nature, and the Earth is our home too, so we will continue to weigh containers that customers bring in to fill them with items like pure vanilla, peanut butter, etc. Going forward, we will further examine ways of utilizing environmentally friendly approaches to retailing as a matter of social responsibility.
At Sharyn’s Pantry, we are really excited about our new local partners – Tom’s Pantry, Cornerstone Organics, Ferme Butte & Bine, Jamink Farms, Kirkview Farm, Crerar’s Honey, Butler’s Catering, and the list continues to grow every day!!! Thankfully, we have so many skilled and caring artisans in our local area. Thank you to all of you for what you do each and every day!!!
As far as passing and accepting the torch offered to us by Gary & Sharyn, we are honoured to live out our passions. By providing real, wholesome food and products that we would give our own families, and providing a destination where customers are truly appreciated, recipes are shared, and there is a real sense of family – we feel very much at home, as Gary and Sharyn did for so many years.
Sharyn has been “grandmothered in”, so she is going to come into the store whenever she wants now, to visit, drink tea, and work if she wants! We are always so happy to see her, and her well worn chair will always be by the work station.
2. In what ways do you envision maintaining and strengthening the store’s connection with the community, considering its longstanding presence and the relationships built by the previous owner?
Roxanne has been working with Sharyn since August of 2023 to ensure that this was a “good fit”. She never left. Peter works on Saturdays, and he likes meeting all of the customers and getting tasks done. This venture is a natural fit for both Peter and Roxanne as they are individuals who help others naturally. Also, we will continue to make community connections and develop relationships with growers, producers, and manufacturers that have high-quality products. We all benefit by engaging and supporting each other locally, and we have a deep respect for those who are close to the ground and know what it is like to do the work.
3. What changes or improvements do you plan to implement in the store to keep up with evolving consumer preferences and market trends, while still honoring the store’s traditional values?
We will continue to keep the traditional approach as it supports the customer service model that we like. You will always be asked if you would like some help when you come into Sharyn’s Pantry. It always makes me laugh when the men come in and say, “My wife sent me,” and they pull out a list. We are always happy to help.
4. How do you intend to engage with local suppliers and farmers to continue offering quality products while supporting the regional economy, a practice that has been a hallmark of the store’s business model?
I just call them, and we chat. We all have the same mindset, so it is very easy. It is our task to make the world a better place. The children will benefit from our efforts.
5. With the increasing focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, how do you plan to integrate eco-friendly initiatives into the store’s operations, ensuring it remains a responsible and respected member of the community for years to come?
The environment is a top priority. We connect every day with others who are like minded and who are socially responsible. Bit by bit, we will make adjustments and we are always willing to work with our customers to make our community store the best it can be for all of us and our children for years to come.
and your contact info? Address: Sharyn’s Pantry 812 Pitt Unit 6, Cornwall, Ontario K6H 5R1 Email: [email protected] Tel #: 613 936 1998 Hours: Thursday 9-5, Friday 9-5 and Saturday 9-3