CR: And did you use any of the training that, like, what was the roles of you and Sam, like how did you divide the…?
MK: Sam taught me, so that I was able to do, to be the editor and he was mainly running the business. He taught me to do the layout, he taught me to do everything. He said there, if I’m not here, he said, there’s no reason why you can’t carry on so you have to know everything. And Sam used to do the bookkeeping himself the first few years, he got the first computer. We had a relic of a computer that somebody, it was worth nothing because it was the earliest IBM that they put out. And Sam used to come in on Sundays and do the invoicing. You know I mean, we saved money in all kinds of ways. He brought a computer in and he, you know, he did bookkeeping in computer to save money in the early years.
CR: And so at that point people got you information, obviously not by computer, they had to bring it in or mailed it?
MK: They had to, that’s right.
CR: And you had to re-type everything and make it all…?
MK: That’s right. If they didn’t bring in things that were typed we just retyped them. We eventually put in computers in of course as soon as we could and he gave the whole staff a computer course, we all went down and took a computer course together. Everybody, even Ron had to go down and take computer.
CR: So would that have been in the ‘80s?
BF: Was it difficult to immigrate to Canada in those years or was it relatively easy?
CE: Well, we had to be examined, you know have a physical examination to see that we were well enough and of course we both, thankfully passed that; and we had sold our home, just given everything up because I thought ‘When I get to Canada I’ll be able to buy everything new.’ Little did I know the hardships that we were going to face when we got here. My husband’s business being a picture-framer at the time, it wasn’t easy to get into that kind of business on your own because in those days people weren’t interested in art the way they are now and so all the picture framing was done by the big stores, Woodward’s or Eaton’s.
BF: Where was your first store located in Vancouver?
CE: He didn’t open his first store, no. In Bradford he had opened his first store but in Vancouver he was never able to open his first store. First of all, at the time when we came to Canada from England, we were only able to bring a certain amount of money with us and each year it had to be a certain amount, and to start with, you know, by the time we had paid all our expenses for coming here, there was not a lot of money to play around with. So we didn’t even think about opening our own store. I would say that both my husband and I were always too cautious about going into debt, we would never ever buy anything until we could pay for it. So that taking a loan to open a business was just an unheard of thing.
AK: You’ve come to settle in Vancouver. Why did you pick this beautiful city?
SB: I did because I was discharged from the army, and in Winnipeg, Manitoba, there was considerable labour troubles that made world news, there was no work, and I got to Vancouver the best way I could, walking, and riding these freight cars and so on. When I got to Vancouver things were very bad here too. It was in 1921.
AK: Did you know anyone in the city?
SB: No, no. I had a few dollars in my pocket tied up, money was very scarce at the time, and the large trams ran to the American border, which cost a dollar and a half one way. Sumas was the area where the buses stopped, that was just about 200 feet across to the American side. I took the bus, got to Sumas, went through the customs, they asked me many questions and so on, but they passed me. Then I worked my way to Los Angeles; it was getting on to the year 1922. In Los Angeles they had a big delivery barn where they rented horse and wagons for $1.75 a day, and these wagons had sides on them where you went out to the packing house and for one dollar they poured, they filled it up with oranges, oranges of different sizes that were ungraded for their shipping. For one dollar we loaded up this wagon full of oranges and we went to Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles, parked on a side street where we sold three dozen oranges for twenty-five cents. The entire wagon load of oranges only cost a dollar and we were glad to get rid of them. Tourists would come to California, pass by on Fifth Avenue and in three or four hours we sold these oranges, and I was at that game for about a year and a half, saved enough money and came back to Vancouver, bought myself a small truck and got myself a route for vegetables. In 1924 I got married. Rabbi Pastinsky at that time performed the ceremony of marriage.
[Tape cuts out]
SB: But the eyes were getting bad and I hired a Japanese that worked for me for a few years, driving my truck for me. The time came when you had to go through a test and I couldn’t pass and I had to have somebody drive my truck. After that my eyes got so bad that I opened up this store on Powell Street, in 1946, for the same type of business. With good fortune, the first two days I was there I didn’t have too much of a stock but a crowd of people came because I used to sell the off the truck and the same people came and told their friends, and from 1948 ‘til 1955 we’d serve about 100,000 people a year in the store.
Interviewee: Segall, Ben & Anna
BS: We were in Princeton for approximately 10 years. From April of 1964 to February of 1974. July of 1974…or April of 1974 would have been 10 years exactly. And according to what we understand from the people that we’ve talked to—and I’ve inquired extensively—we apparently were the first Jewish merchants to ever do business in uh, Princeton for that length of time…
AS: Or even in the Similkameen Valley.
BS: Yes, or even in the Similkameen Valley at that time.
CL: And what goods did you carry?
BS: Well, we carried mostly men’s work clothes because of the mining and the lumbering and of course all the activities that go a long with that. And then my wife had a ladies’ department, [and] she carried a very nice stock. And we also had children’s. And we went in very big for shoes because miners wear out a lot of shoes and so…
AS: And also cowboy boots (laughs).
BS: And also cowboy boots because it’s partially a ranching country as well as mining, lumbering, and tourism. Tourism… there are people in Princeton, it’s amazing, from all over the world.
BW: I went out and I got very friendly with [Boothe] that was a police officer that used to walk this beat down there. So I asked him, “Where do you think I should open a store?” So we looked around and he said, “I think right here, 1200 block Granville Street is the best.” There was plenty of empty stores.
ID: Were there? And it was not a bad area then either, now it’s kind of…
BW: Well, no, it was still bad. No it wasn’t, it was a good area compared but the business was bad. And the store was empty since 1929, so there was, that was already 1932, [going] early to ’32. And it belonged to a Dr. [Guy]. So I phoned him up and I want to come and see him. And I come in to see him and he says, “Well, you know that it used to be, that store was renting for $400 a month.” I said, “Yes, but it’s empty for the last three years or four years.” He said, “No, it’s only three, [three years or something].” So I sat for a few more minutes and talked to him and said, “I can pay you $65 a month. That’s what you’re gonna get and as soon as I am established I’ll raise to 75 and maybe 85 and 100 and so on.” I don’t know, I must have talked him into or maybe he just wanted to get rid of it or maybe I made some impression because I was still quite young. I was 17. So he says, “Okay, here’s the keys.” I rented for 65 bucks a month.
ID: And you opened up a second hand store?
Interviewed by Irene Dodek and Cyril Leonoff, September 25, 1997, Vancouver, B.C.
ID: How did you get into business for yourself? What were the circumstances?
JD: Well, I used to work for...Brown. And sometimes I was a salesman for the rest of it, you know. And I got to see the [restaurant] and I also got to see the country. And I decided to buy myself a little truck...with my brother. And I only did that for about maybe a year. My brother couldn't take it in the country. I bought a store on Robson Street. The building isn't there anymore. 912 Robson Street. And I bought it from this...for $300. I would go in the morning, and did the orders then I'd go down to Water Street and pick up what I needed for those orders. And then I would [wrap] them. In the first part, I delivered myself, and then I got a young fellow, about 18 years old, he worked for me, delivering. Then I bought another butcher shop. And then another one, and another one, and then I had five. But there was not much money in them. So the B.C. Livestock used to be here. And the farmers owned that. So, I started buying cattle and slaughtering them. And gradually started selling them, and...Pacific Meats was in troubel so I bought Pacific Meat for $50,000. I went to the bank and the bank gave me the money. I didn't have to go to Ottawa to finance...I went right in there, the fellow's name was Lampney.
ID: That was the bank manager's name?
JD: Yes, and I asked him for the money. And he said, 'see me tomorrow morning at 10:30,' or something. And I was [dead poor back then]. And he liked that. And he said, 'what do you need?' I said '$100,000.' He smoked a pipe and he said, 'okay!'
ID: Just like that?
ID: I bet you never forgot that.
JD: It's still with me...