After more than 50 years in business, the Charleswood Department Store is closing its doors.
Ike Kraut, opened the store in 1956 and ran it until his death this summer.
“He’d greet every customer like they were one of his good friends,” said Ike’s grandson David Nemy. “This store was like one of his children. He pretty much lived here.”
Ike would be at the store every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Nemy.
“He’d be the first one in and the last one out,” he said. But that changed when Ike suddenly died of a heart attack on July 1 at the age of 81.
Now, Ike’s family has decided to close the store in early September.
“People came to Charleswood Department Store to see Ike, and he was the store,” said his daughter-in-law Harriet Kraut. “For us to take over – we’d probably modernize it and change it, and we just felt that he wanted to leave it in the memory of the way he operated it.”
Ike’s son Myles said people came to the store just to see his father, and even when Ike was away for a short time on vacation, the store suffered.
"When my Dad wasn't here the numbers would drop by about 75 per cent because the customers would just say, 'Well, I'll just wait for Ike to come back from holidays, and we'll see you when he comes back,' and leave,” said Myles.
Myles said the family-run department store survived malls and big box stores because of his father's service.
“Ike was just the consummate salesman. You know, you’d walk in and he’d say, ‘I know what you need,’ and he’d go to one of the racks and pull out something you never would have thought about. And he was right!” said long-time customer Linda Thorlackson.
Yvonne Robb came to bring Ike a retirement card when she heard the store was closing and said she was heartbroken to hear he had died.
“I’m just so shocked that he’s not here,” she said. “Thank you, Ike, for being there for your clients all these years.”
Robb said the neighbourhood won’t be the same without the store – and Ike.