Lefebvre's changing hands

Jerry and Pat Lefebvre retire after 40+ years

Jerry Lefebvre pictured at his Shirreff Avenue store Lefebvre's Source for Adventure, Tuesday. Lefebvre announced this week that he and his wife plan to hand over the more than 100-year-old family business to Aaron and Andrew Busch later this month. Michael Lee/The Nugget

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After more than 100 years in business, North Bay’s own Lefebvre’s Source for Adventure is changing hands later this month.

Owner Jerry Lefebvre announced Tuesday that the family business, started by his grandfather in 1913, will be taken over by brothers Aaron and Andrew Busch.

The store will close today in preparation for a major inventory reduction beginning Thursday, and a ceremony and barbecue has been scheduled for Aug. 24, when the keys will be handed over to Aaron and Andrew.

Lefebvre, who has run the business with his wife, Pat, for more than 40 years, said the Busch brothers bring a whole new level of energy to the business and he believes that this is a proud moment for him.

“We really have always been in the specialty outdoor business and that’s really what Aaron and Andrew are all excited about,” he said.

Striving to always offer their customers high-quality goods that will last, Lefebvre pointed to their ability to read and respond to trends in the industry as having contributed to the store’s lasting success.

“I think we’ve always approached our business with fairness and honesty in mind, and I think people have always got great value when they’ve shopped at our store. And if they wanted something good they came to Lefebvre’s, and that’s always sort of been the mantra of our store.”

Brothers Andrew, left, and Aaron Busch pictured at Lefebvre’s Source for Adventure, Tuesday. The brothers will be taking over the longtime family business later this month. Michael Lee/The Nugget jpg, NB

Having been outdoor people their entire lives, Andrew said he and his brother used to joke about one day owning their own sporting goods store.

“It’s overwhelming when you think about taking over a business that’s so well established, so well respected,” he said.

“It’s a landmark and so there’s a real almost sense of responsibility to maintain its success.”

Aaron, who started working at Lefebvre’s in November, said it feels a little surreal to take over a business that has been around for so long.

On what sets Lefebvre’s apart from some of the big box stores, Aaron said it is the staff, “100 per cent.

“We’ve got people in here who love and do everything we sell here, so I think what we have above other stores on the market is when you come in here you’re going to get an employee who is excited to talk to you about what they’re selling, because they do it.”

The two brothers, who both live in the North Bay area, plan to keep the name of the business as is and say they are committed to the store’s grassroots history.

“We didn’t get here by ourselves, that’s for sure,” Aaron said. “It was a group effort and we’re thankful to be here.”

A 2003 story in The Nugget about the store’s 90th anniversary said Lefebvre’s was the only three-generaiton family business still operating in the city’s downtown.

A fixture of downtown North Bay for several decades, Lefebvre’s started as a magazine and tobacco store when it first opened under Frank Sr., who had lost his leg in a railroad accident.

The store’s first location was adjacent to the old Sol Waiser’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear before moving to Main Street, where at one point it became the subject of a hostage taking which ended with no one getting hurt, Lefebvre recalled.

The business eventually moved to a location on Main Street alongside Vested Interest before both were destroyed in a fire in 2012.

“We had just turned the clock on 99 years in the downtown core and I get a call at 7 o’clock at night to say there’s smoke coming out of our building,” Lefebvre said. “Sixteen to 18 hours later, the building was destroyed.”

He said at the time, the family had the choice of either throwing in the towel or digging in their heels and building the business back up again.

Within four to five months, Lefebvre’s was up and running. “And I think it’s bigger and better than ever,” Lefebvre said.

As he looks toward retirement, Lefebvre said he is grateful for the support from his faithful customer base, adding that he can’t think of five bad days he has had in more than 40 years of business.

“It’s a wonderful business, so I just wanted to say thanks, that’s all.”