Louise and Tom Maxwell at their Patio on 38th adjacent to their home and business, Charlie’s Corner Store, are celebrating 60 years of the store’s existence in Vernon with a month-long contest that ends Monday. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon corner store celebrates 60 years

Charlie’s Corner Store on 32nd Avenue near Trinity United Church opened in 1959

It opened in 1959 as Verndale Cash and Carry.

And, save for a couple of years at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the new millennium, the now-named Charlie’s Corner Store served residents of West Vernon and Alexis Park Drive for 60 years.

READ MORE: New opportunities open at Charlie’s

The Maxwells, Tom and Louise, bought the store in December 2016, moving to the North Okanagan from Calgary, where Tom had been a pastor at an inner city church and became the chief operating officer of the Victory Foundation, a non-profit organization that worked with the homeless and on affordable housing.

Louise had worked with Husky Oil before joining Maxwell’s organization as a cook at a foundation-bought building that housed 60 men to help get them off the street.

After 10 years, the Maxwells needed and wanted a change.

But getting no replies or calls to their resumés in Calgary, the Maxwells poked around the Okanagan and found Charlie’s Grocery up for sale.

READ MORE: A million reasons to smile

They bought the store, changed the name and added what may be Vernon’s best kept secret — a patio to the west of the building that is open for public use, featuring four tables, each with four chairs.

It’s called Patio on 38th, complete with signs.

“We want to be part of the community, to connect with the community,” Louise said.

“We have a lot of seniors that go for a walk, get tired, so they come and sit on the patio. Right after we opened it, a single mom was out there and a new lady moved in.

“They got to talking and started meeting at Charlie’s on the patio for walks.”

The Maxwells did what they could to find out about the history of their home and business.

Archived directories show Vernon Brick and Tile occupied the space from 1951 to 1955; Verndale Cash and Carry opened in 1958.

It stayed that way until 1961, when then-owners B. Earl and Lillian Wilson changed the name to Wilson’s Grocery and Confectionery.

Back in 1981, the name was Verndale Grocery and became Charlie’s Grocery in 1993. Who “Charlie” is remains a bit of a mystery to the Maxwells.

“We talked to his grandson and we know his grandfather – Charlie – owned it until he passed away in 1999,” Tom said. “I never got his full name.”

The store stayed closed for two years, re-opened in 2001 and went through three owners before the Maxwells purchased it.

Since then, Tom said business has grown 47 per cent in the two years they’ve operated the store.

“That shows us we’re doing something right,” he said.

To show their appreciation to their customers, the Maxwells are saying thanks with a month-long contest.

Buy $10 worth of items in the store at 3801-32nd Ave., off the south end of Alexis Park Drive, enter your receipt into the draw box and you could win one of three prizes.

First prize is a $600 prepaid Visa card; second prize is a $300 gift card to Walmart. And third prize is a $100 gift card to Boston Pizza.

“We want to say thanks to our customers,” Tom said.

“Without them, we’re not here for six years, let alone 60 years.”

You can enter what’s been a month-long draw until the end of day Monday, and the winners will be announced Tuesday.


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Charlie’s Grocery, as it was known then before Tom and Louise Maxwell took over the Vernon market and changed the name to Charlie’s Corner Store. The couple are celebrating 60 years of the store being in Vernon with a month-long contest. (Tom Maxwell photo)

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