Variety Store Offers More –

Danny Edwards is no stranger to residents of Bethammi Nursing Home and Cook Apartments.

THUNDER BAY — Danny Edwards didn’t forget the value of the friendly, family-run convenience store that provided food and necessities to the neighborhood.

Many of those candy stores and convenience stores have disappeared and been replaced by franchise chains that offer automotive fuel along busy roads, says Edwards, owner of Danny’s Variety, tucked away in St. Joseph’s Heritage.

“My store is very unique,” ​​he said. “It’s because you’re a stranger when you come in, but you’re a friend when you leave.”

Over the past eight years, Edwards has become great friends with many Bethammi Nursing Home residents and Cook Apartments tenants who frequently shop at his store. Both are located on the St. Joseph’s Heritage campus.

These friendships became deep-rooted, keeping Edwards on the job seven days a week.

And if he doesn’t stock an item he needs, he’ll have it for his customers the next day.

“Most people here are like my aunts, uncles and grandparents,” he said.

“A lot of times when they don’t have anyone to talk to, they come into my store just to tell me how their day was. They’re happy to have someone to talk to.

Edwards provided a coffee table, chairs, and older classical music for customers when they visited. He will even play the guitar for them.

“It’s like everyone is part of my family when they come to my store. They’ll come and they’ll say, ‘Danny, I can’t open this box’, so I’ll open it for them. Some knocked off a clock and their watch and I have to look at them,” he said.

“Some of them even dance here when I play them my music or my guitar.”

Joanne Hnatiw, a recently retired worker from Cook Apartments, remembers when Edwards took over the store.

“The people who had the store decided they didn’t want to engage anymore, so he approached them and asked if he could take it over. He was so proud of it,” Hnatiw said.

“He got the store going and the customers preferred him. He has a very kind heart. He loves the residents and staff here and that’s so good. »

She said Edwards had brought ‘real happiness’ to some of the residents who visited her from the Bethammi nursing home.

“They would come down to his house for coffee and he would play the old songs and you could see the (happiness) on his face,” she said.

“It warms his heart so much.”

Cook Apartments resident Millie Gehl-Nikkila says Edwards brings a smile to everyone’s face with his amusing comedic ways. Her music is quite enjoyable, and “I like that old-school Western music,” she said.

“If Danny doesn’t have something in his store that we ask for, he’ll pick it up the next time he goes shopping. He is always pleasant and he can certainly be comical.

Vivian Koss, also a resident of Cook Apartments, also enjoys Edwards’ music.

” He’s a good guy. I don’t know what we would do without his little store,” Koss said.

“He’s so easy to talk to and he’s always there to listen. If something’s bothering you and you need someone to talk to, you can come downstairs and listen to Danny.

Lorraine Nixon, a tenant of Cook Apartments for over 20 years, remembers visiting the store many times.

“Before the pandemic, we would come in and have coffee with him. We were really looking forward to it. And then of course, with the pandemic, you couldn’t do that anymore,” Nixon said. “We would go there and spend an hour there and it was very pleasant. I hope we can do it again soon.

Edwards, who is a cousin of country artist Shania Twain, has traveled back and forth from his hometown of Timmins, Ont., for work. Arriving in Thunder Bay in the 1980s, Edwards worked in the Dougall Media television studio, then returned to Timmins where he operated two variety stores.

“Thunder Bay is where my heart is. . . and that’s how I came back here,” Edwards said. “I love doing this and it’s not a job. These people are part of my family . . . and when you need someone to talk to, well, I’m here for you.

The Journal of the Chronicle

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