With just a few finishing touches left to go, JL’s Duke Street Home Building Centre, is looking like a newer, brighter version of its old self.

JL and Deb Belisle have been the dealer-owners for the Elmira building centre since 1996. They also operate a pair of stores in Guelph (Wellington Street, Grange Street).

JL explains all three of them needed to be updated.

“We did the Guelph store in 2014. This was the next one on the slate. In 2015, we started planning and executed last year. And we did the Grange Street store last November and it’s just completing now,” JL said.

The building was stripped to the bare walls inside and out. They took out all the flooring and ceiling tiles out, and brought in new light fixtures, drywall, and flooring tiles.

When they stripped the building, they took the siding and the cladding off. All of the original doors and windows from when the building was Beaver Lumber are still in place, they’re just sandwiched between the walls.

“For the outside we stripped down all the old siding, we did some insulation and recladded it all. It’s basically a new building in an old shell,” JL said.

Deb and JL Belisle, dealer-owners of the Duke Street Home Building Centre, have done extensive renovations inside and out to the Elmira location. The building itself has a long history in building materials, dating back to 1876. They plan to reprint many of the historical photos from the building’s former life to display in the store. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

They’re in the same building that’s been there since 1876. It was owned by a variety of building companies, including N.M. Bearinger Limited, The Elmira Planing Mill Company Limited, and Beaver Lumber. Beaver Lumber was purchased by Home Hardware in 2000.

They have an assortment of old photos of the building, which they plan to reprint larger and display in the store.

“There’s a lot of history to the place,” JL said.

They just have some finishing touches to add to the building before it’s officially fully renovated.

Rick Lackovic, JL’s marketing manager, says the building needed structural and cosmetic updates.

Lackovic says the store has been completely re-merchandized,  and re-computerized, as well as designed to make it easier for customers to get in and out and access product. The renovations have been in the plans for five years.

“The one thing that we are very cognizant of is our Mennonite community and I’m really trying to reach out to them,” Lackovic said.

In that vein, they’re planning to set up a watering station for the horses to get a drink of  water when they’re tied up outside with the buggies. It’s already been ordered and just needs to be hooked up before the summer heat sets in.

“Last summer when we were doing the renovations we were watching the horses and we would carry out every now and again a bucket of water for the horses,” JL said.

Store manager Sara Tilcox says customers appreciate the changes to the store, including tripling the products available in store. They’ll hold their grand re-opening May 5 and 6, but they’re open for business now. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

They’re also going to dedicate one of their sheds as a shelter for the horses. They would have built a shelter for them, but because the property is in a floodplain, it wouldn’t be easy to get a building permit.

They would like to also have a mini-farmers’ market set up in front of the store in the morning on Wednesdays. They’re working to make that a possibility with local Mennonites who’d like to sell their goods.

So far, customers are loving the new look of the store.

“We get a lot of comments that we’ve enlarged the store, but it’s the same,” Deb said of the floor space.

As part of the renovations they’ve tripled the assortment of goods. They went from just under 7,000 items to more than 20,000 items in stock.

“Customers expect to be able to come in and find the item that they want. In the old days it was kind of okay to special order items and have it for them in a couple of days, but it’s not the way to do business right now,” JL said.

The store is open now and they’re holding their official grand opening on May 5 and 6. They’ll have a special flyer coming out in conjunction with that. Mayor Sandy Shantz will do a ribbon cutting on May 5. The charity BBQ will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 6. The proceeds will go to Woolwich Community Services.

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