THUNDER BAY — Imagine walking into a general store and stepping back to a time of fun, music, colour and neon. That’s the vision of Dan Cheal, who is developing The Junk Zone General Store that Cheal will open later this summer on Alloy Drive.
“I grew up in the (1980s) and to me, the ’80s were a better time than now and I know a lot of people feel that same way,” he said.
“When you are in my store, it’s going to bring you back to a better time. If you buy something that’s fantastic, but if you just want to look around and have a cherry Coke, you can do that.”
Cheal has a couple of vintage Coca-Cola coolers from the 1950s and says, “Wouldn’t it be cool to lift up the original vintage lid and take one out of the ice?”
Inside the store, a media area will be featured on the main floor where “all the good stuff” like music from the 1950s to 1980s, will be playing.
“It’s going to be the ultimate she-shed and man-cave atmosphere where it will be darker, with records, CDs, DVDs, posters, rock T-shirts and the glow of neon,” he said. “It will be a place where you can come just to escape reality and just enjoy the music.”
Cheal says in their travels, they find a lot of “good things,” including retro and vintage collectables, tools and furniture, and most of it comes from estate clean-outs.
Instead of disposing of the items, he says he is recycling, repurposing and reusing them by making them available to the public.
Cheal operated a smaller version of The Junk Zone General Store but had to relocate due to insufficient parking and retail space.
His clients range from very young to seniors who browse through his selections of crafting, artistic and hobby materials, collector, mechanical, decorative housewares and furniture. The new location on Alloy Drive will have plenty of parking for everyone and will feature two floors of retail space.
Cheal says they have done charitable work to “give back to the community.” The Underground Gym and other agencies have benefited from his generosity.
“My shop is not a shop of needs,” he said. “When you walk into my shop, you don’t need anything in there — but you’ll want it because it will bring you back to your childhood or a time when you went somewhere with your grandfather. It sparks memories.”
Cheal classifies his shop as a general store/five and dime/collectors headquarters.
“When we open the doors after I’ve completed it the way I envisioned it, this will be the coolest hippest and most unique store that this city has even seen,” he said.
Cheal is in the process of moving into the new location and says he won’t open the doors until it is set up properly and “it’s going to be spectacular.”
“I don’t want to do it half way and have people say, ‘well the store is alright,’ I want people to have that wow factor.”
When The Junk Zone General Store opens in August, all necessary COVID-19 protocols will be in place.
Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal