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Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing: A store with a long history

This week’s Monday Morning ‘MUG’ing is about Brent Park Store, one of the city’s oldest surviving businesses.

THUNDER BAY -- Paul Trevisanutto, owner of Brent Park Store, comes from a family of entrepreneurs.

“My grandfather opened a grocery store on Hodder avenue called Half-Way Groceries,” he says. “His father had died young, so they worked hard. Then my grandfather passed away so my dad had to step into the business early, too.”

In the 60s, the Trevisanuttos transitioned into a car dealership, and two of Paul’s brothers work at Half-Way Motors now. (Another branch of the family owns garden centres.) Paul had other interests and went to culinary school and hospitality school, but eventually grew tired of the late hours. Looking for a job that was “more steady and predictable,” he started working at Brent Park Store in 2012.

Entrepreneurship and hard work are things Trevisanutto grew up with, so it wasn’t a big leap for him to buy Brent Park Store in 2014. In February 2020, he moved out of the original location on Brent Street to the corner of High Street and Van Norman. Situated at a busy intersection across from newly developed condos, the business owner has seen many new faces coming in the door. “Lots of people didn’t even know about us before.”

Brent Park Store was established in 1909 as a neighbourhood general store. In 1961, a German butcher bought the business, turning it into a German deli and butcher. Today, Brent Park Store employs five people and still carries imported food from Germany, as well as from the Netherlands, Croatia, Hungary and other eastern European countries. “There are lots of Croatians in town - or they all shop here,” says Paul.

The store also carries a wide selection of local products, from Slate River Dairy milk to ready-to-bake goodies from Bakeshop on Boundary. “We carry as much local as we can,” Paul says.

“There have been good years and bad years,” he says about the seven years since he bought the business. “But it’s allowed me a lot of opportunities, and it’s been good.”

The end goal is to see the business grow. “This year marks 60 years for us as a German deli. And we’re celebrating one year in this building; those are milestones for us,” he says. “We’re keeping the name Brent Park Store in the public, and trying to grow in the community.”