Local Journalism Initiative reporter
At the heart of every community are businesses that are owned by people who strive to provide jobs and services to their neighbours.
The endless hours of overtime, struggle and successes that come with working with the public, exhaustion that’s earned from juggling staff, orders, and other major responsibilities, are all part of keeping a thriving business alive to satisfy customers and help a community to prosper.
Such is the type of business that Bruce and Marilynne Brulotte dreamed of building in McLennan when they purchased Home Hardware on Oct. 2, 1992.
“We wanted something close,” says Marilynne, remembering back to when she and Bruce first made the decision to buy the store. “Bruce was working out of town. BJ was two and Cam was only six weeks old when we decided to buy the store.”
Marilynne says former owners Bill and Annie Trotter helped them transition for the first few months.
“At first it was mainly Bruce and I,” says Marilynne. “Eighteen months in we hired Rolly Valiquette and he’s been with us through the years.”
She says there have been many exemplary employees over the years, and they are grateful to have had a staff that has helped them run a successful store in town.
“Our boys (BJ and Cam) came in to work when they were 10 and 12,” she says. “They did everything from clean toilets to dust shelves, paint, and everything in between.”
Marilynne says their family is appreciative of the community support they’ve received through the years, noting she and Bruce realized many expansions as demand grew in their business.
In August 2008, the family purchased the town’s former bakery to expand the stock they could provide to their customers. In December 2012, they purchased another building, formerly Carl’s Auto, to provide additional storage area for overflow stock.
“In 2014, we decided to expand Home Hardware to become a building centre,” she explains. “Then in 2017, we repaved the parking lot to have a better driving surface for our customers.”
And although the dynamic of the store changed considerably in March with the passing of Marilynne’s beloved husband Bruce, the family’s mission is to keep his legacy alive and continue providing the same great service he wanted to ensure their clientele.
Marilynne and Cam are teaming up as business partners, with the intent of Cam and his wife, Sam, taking over the reigns in the future.
“Cam will slowly be transitioning into the role of owner,” says Marilynne. “For now, he is continuing to work with me at the store, learning all the ropes, and adding more of the ownership responsibility to his plate.”
In the Smoky River Region, if you ask most residents where to buy something of a great variety the response you will get is, “Go to Bruce and Marilynne’s in McLennan”.
As Marilynne, Cam, BJ, Sam, and newest addition baby Stella, celebrate their 30th year in business and their dad/husband’s legacy, they invite you to their parking lot celebration on Oct. 1.
“Bruce really wanted to celebrate any milestone,” says Marilynne. “Now that he’s gone, we thought it was even more important to do this.”
Marilynne explains the celebration will run from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the store. They will be providing hotdogs, hamburgers, cake, candy bags for children, and a flower for the first 50 women to attend.
“We contacted our vendors to provide prizes for draws,” says Marilynne. “Since the beginning of August, a draw ticket has been given for every $10 of cash sales. We will do the draws on the first.”
Marilynne adds they will be giving a discount for the one day on all in store items excluding building materials, appliances, special orders, and rain checks.
Home Hardware will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
At its meeting Sept. 12, McLennan town council decided to present a plaque to Home Hardware recognizing their 30 years in business during the celebration.