The businesses and services that dot Ontario Street in Burk's Falls will soon see a new business added along the corridor.
It's called The Emporium and it's located at 205 Ontario St.
The building used to be occupied by the Agilec employment centre until it relocated, paving the way for Lance Thrale to buy the building earlier this year.
Thrale's son, Robert, a resident of Emsdale, will manage the business.
“After considering several names, one day it just came to my father to call it 'The Emporium,' because when you come in, you never know what you're going to find,” Robert said.
“It's eclectic, strange, fun and unusual. There's going to be a little of everything and we want people to be surprised.”
Robert says while the lower level will have more of a thrift store and bargain bin theme, the upper level will be stocked with antiques, collectibles and decor items.
Regarding the antiques, he says The Emporium will be on the hunt regularly. For now, the search for antiques will go as far south as Toronto and north to the Sudbury and North Bay areas.
The Thrales hope The Emporium can serve as one more shop to help invigorate the village's downtown, as well as become a tourist draw for people looking for unique items.
To that end, Robert says if a person is looking for a particular item, he'll put their name on a list and let them know when he comes across it.
He says a significant amount of money is being spent on the building to make it presentable and that includes repairing the concrete around the building, adding stonework to the front and installing accessible doors.
Robert added there also is a new roof that replaces the gravel rooftop, which took on a considerable amount of rainwater over time and came through the building damaging the ceiling.
While the work currently will help beautify the building, Robert says what will make it pop is the addition of a 12-foot high, 64-foot long mural along the side of The Emporium.
Local artist Haleigh Lawrence, who along with her husband, Daniel, co-own the Burk's Falls Riverbowl, has been commissioned by the Thrales to paint the mural.
“She's been fantastic to work with and just seeing the different parts of the mural is breathtaking,” Robert said.
“We got to see early images of it and I'm glad we went with Haleigh.”
However, he says the various images Lawrence is painting will be kept secret until The Emporium's grand opening.
The only thing Robert will say about the images is that they showcase Burk's Falls and “will bring a smile to people.”
Lawrence has been painting the images on boards, which will get a veneer coating to protect the artwork from the weather.
Lawrence is painting the images privately to help maintain the surprise of the unveiling.
When complete, the individual boards will be strapped along the exterior of The Emporium's sidewall and covered up. The mural will remain covered until the grand opening, which Robert says may occur in late-August.
A lighting system will line the 64-foot long mural, giving it a nighttime presence.
Robert says the municipality has been very supportive in helping the family move forward with the business.
He says queries to the town hall are met with quick turnaround responses “and this town council has been nothing but amazing.”
Robert adds that at one point, he and his dad gave Burk's Falls Mayor Cathy Still a tour of the work currently underway.
“She was very happy with what she saw and was very supportive,” he said.
Robert says his dad, who is originally from England but has lived in Kearney for some time, has had different business ventures in the past, but this is his first foray into the retail side of things.
He says operating a retail store has been a goal of his father's for a very long time.
Robert says his dad will soon have the chance to fulfill that dream and, at the same time, bring more shoppers to downtown Burk's Falls.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget