By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
A long-time staple of downtown Cobourg, Twice As Nice is closing June 30 after 28 years in business.
But co-owner Gillian Kassela said it’s not because of COVID-19. In fact, she said, she and her partner Candis Savage saw it as an opportunity to make a grand exit.
“It was like the stars lined up and said, ‘Maybe you should take advantage of this opportunity,’” Kassela noted.
“We said, ‘Yes, that’s what we’re going to do.’”
With social-distancing measures in place, they have found a way to say goodbye in style – private shopping sprees.
It’s an appointment thing, Kassela explained – call the store to make an appointment, then come in and enjoy the luxury of shopping by yourself. And, she added, “we get to spend a bit of time with you and say goodbye.”
It’s not like they hadn’t already begun thinking of when to retire, she continued. They probably could have gotten through the pandemic and carried on for another couple of years but, now that they’ve made the decision, they are very happy with it.
Kassela is already making travel plans and looking forward to more time with her first grandchild.
Savage is looking forward to not missing any more family events, having a calendar that’s free and clear for whatever may come up (which will come in handy as her son’s summer wedding, postponed by the pandemic, is planned anew).
“I think, more than anything, this pandemic has given us time to reflect on things that are really important. That’s family,” Kassela stated.
“In fact, one of the reasons we started the store was so we could take our kids to work with us. We didn’t have to send our children to daycare. We just didn’t think we would last 28 years – maybe five or 10.
“But we did what we wanted to. It started out as a little dream, and we were successful.”
Kassela was the mother of three-year-old Rachel and one-year-old Josh when they first started their consignment shop across the street from CDCI West. Savage brought along newborn Emily, one-year-old Meaghan and two-year-old Brenden.
They were happy there from 1992 to 2001.
Longer-term Cobourg residents may remember the Big Dig, a massive excavation of King Street to upgrade the infrastructure that also caused a fair bit of disruption to the downtown. For Savage and Kassela, it was an opportunity to support the downtown by moving there. That’s where they have been ever since.
The business evolved into more than just a consignment shop, with the addition of a variety of giftware and – an interesting retail phenomenon in recent years – signs for the home.
It also became more of a family affair than just having the five children around, Savage reported. Meaghan (who now lives in Scotland) helped them set up an on-line presence, and Rachel was very helpful with their Facebook posts. And once Josh joined the Canadian Armed Forces, their beautifully decorated King Street shop window took a patriotic turn each Remembrance Day in his honour.
They sold poppy-patterned scarves and displayed a mannequin whose contours were completely covered with poppies. Kassela will miss those annual observances, and hopes she can find some downtown business that will continue displaying the mannequin each November.
Both will miss their amazing customers – “the joy of the customers coming into the shop,” Savage said.
“There really was something for everybody.”
As they start to pack things up, they run across the odd memento or photo from those years, and it’s always a chance to share a smile or a laugh and to take pride in the 28-year-success story they have created – not something every business can boast.
“We are leaving on a very, very positive note,” Kassela said.
“I don’t blame it on the pandemic, it’s nothing to do with COVID. We just thought the time is right, so we’re going to take the opportunity.”