By Karen Wolfe
It will be a very sad day on December 15 when Dianne Roberts (nee Bodley) and her daughter Cheri McLarty close the doors on a family legacy that dates back more than 110 years in Pefferlaw.
It is the end of an era and the end of four generations of Bodley storekeeping–a commercial enterprise that has been so familiar to customers for miles around.
“They made it easy to buy the right appliance; they were honest and competitive, delivered on time and installed it with perfection. The box stores just don’t compare today,” said long-time customer Wayne Downey. “It is the end of an era, and we will miss them.”
While the Bodley location at 247 Pefferlaw Road has been selling appliances since 1974, Dianne’s son, Randy, prior to his passing earlier this year, said he remembered his father, Jim Roberts, as the butcher when the store sold groceries.
“My father was the butcher and would walk out from behind the meat counter with his apron on to sell the odd TV,” Randy said, “and it evolved from there.”
It has been a going concern ever since, and Dianne explained how the difficult decision to close the store has came about. “Jim passed away in 2000, and since then, my son Randy, daughter Cheri and myself worked closely together until Randy’s death in April,” she said. “And then our lives changed forever.”
As far as the store was concerned, it was difficult to accept that its outstanding reputation as a full-service furniture and appliance retailer had ended.
“Over the past seven months, Cheri and I have realized that we cannot offer the same service to our customers as before,” Dianne said.
The Bodley’s legacy began with Dianne’s grandfather, Thomas H. Bodley. When he opened his first store, no one had heard of a TV, a DVD or a thumb drive–a dishwasher was his wife, and a microwave was a small gesture of greeting.
The first Bodley store burned down in 1912 but was rebuilt in 1914 on the current site. History records suggest this building was one of the first buildings in Pefferlaw to be equipped with a Delco 32-volt generating system that provided the store electricity.
In 1948, the store was again destroyed by fire, and that is when the building that exists today was constructed.
Jackie McEachern, a lifelong friend and one-time neighbour, remembers the family’s Great Dane, who was trained to deliver groceries home in a paper bag from the store.
“One day, the paper bag broke, and the poor dog was trying to catch all of the oranges rolling down the street,” Ms. McEachern said.
Another Pefferlaw resident Gail Moore said her mother worked there when she was a teenager, and her two sisters also had part-time jobs there when they were in high school.
“I am sad to see such an icon of the village closing. With such friendly people,” she said.
But Diane took to heart the advice her older brother Charles shared with her recently. “It’s time,” he told her.
Cheri said it would be a sad day, but they both looked forward to the future. “We will miss our customers’ contact, but we are looking forward to retirement,” Dianne said.
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