Boushey's Fruit Market on Elgin Street closing after 70 years in business

A corner grocery in downtown Ottawa that's supplied its loyal customers with everything from late-night snacks and emergency provisions to warm welcomes and friendly chats is closing its doors after 70 years in business.

Grocery store at corner of Elgin and Waverley streets run by 3 generations of Boushey family

Mark Boushey and his brother Peter will close the family-owned grocery store at the corner of Elgin and Waverley streets in July 2016. It has been run for the last 70 years. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

A corner grocery in downtown Ottawa that's supplied its loyal customers with everything from late-night snacks and emergency provisions to warm welcomes and friendly chats is closing its doors after 70 years in business.

Boushey's Fruit Market, at the corner of Elgin and Waverley streets, has been run by three generations of the same family since 1946.

Current owners Mark Boushey and his brother Peter say they've decided to close the store at the end of July. 

"It's bittersweet. We realize how iconic it is, but it's also a tiring job," Mark said. "Everything has a beginning and end. We have to move on."
Boushey's Fruit Market was first opened by Mark Boushey's grandfather. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Mark started working at the store — pronounced "Bow-shey's" by its owners, but "Boo-shey's" by nearly everyone else— in 1981, and Peter started there in 1969.

Mark said they're not closing for financial reasons, and they're working on finding a new tenant for the building, which the family owns.

"Our customers are like family for us, a lot of them coming in 40, 50 years. Same thing with the employees that are here," Mark said.

Mark said over its seven decades in business, Boushey's introduced many of its customers to Lebanese food.

"It's like breaking up a family, really, but we have to do it. It can't go on forever."

'To me, they are Elgin Street'

Customers dropping in Tuesday morning reacted with both shock and appreciation. 

"Well, I've gone into mourning," said Maggie Dupuis.

"For me, Boushey's has meant friendly service and knowing that it's here. If you ran out of anything you can rush here and pick it up, and there's always a smile on Mark and Peter's face," said Dupuis. 

Longtime customer Danny Savard lamented the loss for the neighbourhood. "To me, they are Elgin Street," said Savard. "These guys are the cornerstone. That's why we all love them and why we're going to miss them."

JC Nault, a regular customer for more than two decades, said he always felt appreciated by the Bousheys.

"Oh my gosh, it's a family," said Nault. "They treat you like a family member. They're willing to sit and chat with you for a few minutes. It's not just like, 'Give me your money and go.'"

Taking time off

Mark Boushey said he's not exactly sure what he'll do once he closes his store.

"I've never actually had any free time or time off, so I'm going to take some time off, for a few months anyway," Mark said."

As for the store's legacy, Mark believes Boushey's can serve as an inspiration. 

"Hopefully it'll be remembered as the little store that exceeded expectations."


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