Flagship Olde Stanton Store closes after 40 years
The original location of the Olde Stanton Store is closing its doors after 40 years as a family business and a Mulmur landmark.
Len and Marie Swidersky are closing shop as a step toward retirement, although they still have a store by the same name at Blue Mountain Village, and two others there – Happy Valley Candy Store and Go Fish Go. But the original store, at the corner of Airport Road and the 5th Sideroad, holds special memories for the couple, married 45 years. For almost 30 years, the family lived adjacent to the retail area. It is where they made their start in business, where they raised four children: Jessica Tamlin (a Creemore artist), Nick, Alex and James. In touring the building with Marie, one gets the sense that their family life blended into their professional lives at the store and the community beyond.
The building dates back to the 1860s and housed the general store when Stanton was a bustling hamlet, with hotels, and a courthouse. When the Swiderskys bought it in 1978, the building was boarded up.
“For us, it was a miracle,” said Marie. They had found a place where they could live and sell Len’s artwork.
It was Len who landed on the name, The Olde Stanton Store, because that’s what was written on the key when it was handed over.
Marie recalls opening the store on Thanksgiving weekend in 1980. One of Len’s pieces that sold was a small black walnut carving of a woman with two children, purchased by a neighbour, Mrs. Holden.
She said that $120 purchase made their opening a success, and the sculpture was made more meaningful when it was later willed back to the Swiderskys, upon Mrs. Holden’s death.
What started out as a gallery of Len’s work, gradually evolved to carry products by local artisans and then further into international imports that the couple liked and some that benefitted the communities where they were made.
The evolution was driven by the financial realities that come with owning property and raising a family but Marie found she loved interacting with the people that visited the store, while Len had an eye for design and construction.
“Len and I worked as a team. We are different personalities but we work so well together,” said Marie.
“We really do care about our customers,” she said. “We’ve had amazing customers. So many interesting people. You never know who’s going to walk through the door.”
They expanded and at one point had four stores open at once, in Alliston, Churchill and Primrose, and Mulmur.
It was in 2004 that they made a huge decision to open a location at Blue Mountain Village. Marie said there is a little bit of Mulmur in that store too because Len dismantled an old barn from Airport Road and used it to create the store’s interior.
It’s at that location where they make the fudge, which is a big part of The Olde Stanton Store experience. Pre-pandemic, customers were offered samples in order to help them choose from dozens of flavours.
“Through the years we’ve had amazing people working with us,” said Marie. “Some for more than 20 years.”
She gives special thanks to Mulmur employees Donna Willett, Pat Lourenco, Betty Harris, Mandy Bailey, and many others.
Marie said they have made many good friends and happy memories at the store, but they will remain in the community, having built a home nearby years ago.
The Olde Stanton Store is winding down until Christmas but it is not known exactly when the doors will close for the last time. Marie says the new owners have big plans for the property, including the restoration of the old building and possibly a future commercial enterprise.