“Here, you have to ask and they bring out what you need,” assures a loyal customer, Katrina Bedregal.
“There are some little treasures here. It makes me think of my grandparents’ time,” continues the woman who has just bought a long metal needle that has clearly had some experience.
Entering Quincaillerie J.L. Lavoie is like taking a trip back in time. The wooden shelves and hand-written product prices make us feel like we’re in a general store. Administered from father to son for three generations, the business has existed for 102 years on Center Street, a few steps from the Charlevoix metro station.
“My grandfather was a veterinarian. He looked after the horses back in the stable and he opened the business as a sideline,” says Robert Lavoie.
Benoît Lavoie purchased the building in 1921, which recalls the equestrian past of Pointe-Saint-Charles with a fence overlooking an interior courtyard. “For the grand sum of 700 dollars,” says his grandson.
“When I was little, I lived upstairs. I went down and came to help my father, Jean-Louis. I made deliveries, I placed stock… That’s how I learned everything. »
The “store” part consists of a narrow central aisle. The rows in front of the walls on which huge ladders rest are reserved for employees. That’s not counting the basement, the warehouse behind and the garages. “You have to ask and we know where to find it. »
Every square meter of the business is fully exploited with boxes stacked everywhere. “It doesn’t seem obvious, but it’s a lot of work to classify and store it all. You need a good memory to work here,” jokes Robert Lavoie.
A few years ago, a large Dollarama store opened practically across the street. Unwelcome competition, given that it is a rather quiet commercial sector, compared to Wellington Street, for example. “It’s certain that it brings business, but it’s not the same quality,” says Robert Lavoie.
And it’s not the same service! You should know that Quincaillerie J.L. Lavoie offers a repair service. “We do a little bit of everything. We repair windows, mosquito nets, vacuum cleaners, lamps, even a round saw the other time. We even go to your home for short calls. »
“Plus, I do delivery,” adds Robert Lavoie. I have clients in Saint-Hyacinthe, L’Île-Perrot, Repentigny…”
You will have understood that the hardware store is not a job for Robert Lavoie: it is his life. “When I come here in the morning, it’s like I’m coming in my business. I love serving customers, but I definitely don’t count the hours. »
The J.L. Lavoie hardware store specializes in painting and offers a custom color service. Before supporting his brother Jean-Luc at the hardware store and then taking over, Robert Lavoie was a representative for the manufacturer FEROX after having been manager nearby in the Sherwin-Williams factory (whose historic building was converted in condos).
At the time, customer service was already very important to him. He remembers filling his car with gallons of paint late one Friday afternoon to help out a customer in Sherbrooke.
During our visit, the sales director of painting accessories supplier Chidaca, Alexandre Rochette, stopped by to place an order.
“Are there still old-fashioned neighborhood hardware stores like J.L. Lavoie?
“In my network, he’s the last one left with his old way of doing things,” he replied.
Last year, a man offered Robert Lavoie to buy his building. He refused. He is not ready to end his loyal service for 102 years even if there is no family successor to succeed him.
“I still feel in good shape and I don’t want to retire,” says the man who would have crossed the threshold of sixty according to the teasing of his employees.
“I love serving customers,” he repeats.
Conclusion ? Before throwing away an object that you think you cannot repair, go to Quincaillerie J.L. Lavoie.