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'It has been incredibly difficult for me': Vancouver camping store packs it in

A well-known travel and camping gear store in Vancouver is shutting its doors after 70 years in business.

Iconic 3 Vets store to close in November

Owner Jerry Wolfman gets some love from his dog Sugg-White, who wanders the store greeting customers. (David Horemans/CBC)

After 70 years in business, Vancouver's popular travel and camping gear store, 3 Vets, is closing for good in November.

Jerry Wolfman, who inherited the business from his father, and who runs the store with his brother, said they would like to retire.

"My father founded it in 1947 when he got out of the military," Wolfman said. "I have been doing this with my brother, who is the co-owner for 50 years. It is the end of an era."

Wolfman said a land developer approached the family earlier this year in the hopes they would want to sell the building on Yukon Street near 6th Avenue.

"They came with an overwhelming offer and we just couldn't refuse it," he said. "It is incredibly difficult for me and my brother."

'A lot of people are saddened by the closing of our store,' says Wolfman. 'They are going to miss everything about it; it's uniqueness, it's hominess, it's usefulness.' (David Horemans/CBC)

A place to find anything and everything you need

Howard Mitchell has been a customer for 29 years. (David Horemans/CBC)

On Thursday, customer Howard Mitchell came in to find a waterproof hat, preferably not made from animals.

"You come here to find stuff that is different. It is not like the box stores that all have the same suppliers," Mitchell said.

One of the many working parachutes on sale at the store. (David Horemans/CBC)
Tent pegs, big and small are among the many things that can be found on store shelves. (David Horemans/CBC)
A small room inside the store is dedicated to a collection of affordable carvings that are for sale. (David Horemans/CBC)
Long time customer Andrea did not know about the art gallery until Tuesday morning when she heard Jerry Wolfman talk about the store closing on CBC Radio. (David Horemans/CBC)

Ready for retirement

Jerry and his brother Keith joined the family business in the late 1960's but now the two are ready to retire. 

"My brother and I have just decided it's time to semi-retire and move onto other things."

The family had considered selling the business and the land together but said with today's property values, it was difficult to find a buyer for both. 

"They came with an overwhelming offer and we just couldn't refuse it," says owner Jerry Wolfman. (David Horemans/CBC)

"The property being worth as much as it is, it would be difficult for somebody looking to buy a business in today's world who would be able to afford to buy both the business and the inventory and the property from us."

The store will close in early November. 

With the owners set to retire later this year, 3 Vets has been sold to land developers. But as one of the owners reveals, it was not an easy decision. 1:05

With files from Deborah Goble and David Horemans