FOUR GENERATIONS OF FAMILY TRADITION
In 1924 George Schaefer returned from serving in WW1. He then moved from Timmins to Goderich to open a new business on the corner of the Square and North Street under the name G. Schaefer Groceries. He operated the general store at that location until 1929.
In 1929 George Schaefer bought 142 The Square from Mr. Grey. Currently the location of Wuerth’s Shoes. George’s first day of business in that location was Black Friday October 1929. The business operated under the name Geo W Schaefer. This wasn’t a general store as before but dealt more with clothing and household goods. In 1949 the business became George W Schaefer and Son when John Schaefer, aged 19 joined his father in the business. The business did further name change when the youngest son Bill Schaefer joined the family business in 1954. Operating under the name of Geo W Schaefer and Sons it continued to serve the community with ladies clothing, and household merchandise such as flooring, curtains, blinds, wallpaper, bedding and towels.
EXPANSION AND A BIG MOVE
In 1959 George Schaefer bought 162 Court House Square from Mr. Atchison. Shortly after the 162 location was closed and major renovations took place. The dirt floor basement was dug down to create a functioning lower level selling space for flooring, window coverings, bedding and towels and fabric. The front of the store was redesigned into a modern ceramic front with large display windows and an alcove for window shopping. An updated heating system was installed and air conditioning was installed which was quite a big deal in the early 60’s. In 1961 the 142 location was sold and a brand new store opened to the public under the name Schaefer’s Ladies Wear at 162 Court House Square. In July of the following year George Schaefer passed away. His two sons continued to carry on the traditions of the family business.
Bill Schaefer left the business in the late 60’s to relocate to another storefront a block away to have the space in order to showcase his talents with custom drapery and floorings. This move left John the space to expand the fabric centre on the lower level adding a large bedding and luggage section. The main floor was then dedicated to ladies’ fashions and accessories.
John’s daughter Louise started as a student clerk in the store in 1966. In 1973 she returned to Goderich to become a full time employee. After having her daughter Anne, she returned to the store in 1979 and in 1986 became a partner with her father John in the business.
In 1996 John retired and Louise took sole ownership of the business. The fabric centre and bedding and luggage were cleared out of the lower level in order to dedicate that area to sleepwear, lingerie and swimwear.
Louise’s daughter Anne joined the staff of Schaefer’s in 1998 to work full time and become the store Manager in 2002.
TRENDS THAT CAME AND WENT
Over the years Schaefer’s has carried a large variety of products from carpet and drapery, bedding and fabrics to ladies’ fashions. We saw the following come and go as trends changed: wigs, Tender Tootsies shoes, infant and young children’s clothing, hats, Estee Lauder, Luggage, Yarn, Notions, Towels, Furs and Leather, and many more. When these trends started Schaefer’s had them in the store. During the 60’s 70’s and 80’s when Toronto was a fashion center John would drive to Toronto weekly to bring back new merchandise for the store. From Flapper dresses in the 20’s, Crinkaline fabric and Levis’ for women in the 60’s then Kinky Toes and Maxi Coats in the 70’s, as Schaefer’s has followed the trends.
OBSTACLES WE OVERCAME
In the early 1950’s there was a fire at the location at 142 The Square. The fire didn’t do much structural damage but the heat, smoke and water caused a major interruption to business.
In July of 2004 Schaefer’s was impacted by the fire that totally destroyed Triangle Discount on the corner of the Square and North Street. We were forced to have a smoke sale, close for cleanup and then reopen with all new merchandise.
An F3 Tornado that tore through Goderich in September 2011 did the least damage to our block of the square. Our windows were blown out and we had some roof damage. Due to the concern over asbestos contamination from surrounding buildings we were closed for 7 weeks. All of our inventory was removed, the store professionally cleaned, windows replaced and roof redone. We then started to replace what inventory we could get. Today we are happy to say that Goderich is back better than ever as is Schaefer’s Ladies Wear and Lingerie