Writer looking for stories and memories of the Corner Brook Eaton's store
Bruce Kopytek has been fascinated with department stores since he was a small child.
The Shelby Township, Michigan man is currently writing a book on one department store chain that once had a presence in Corner Brook.
"Eaton's: The Trans-Canada Store," is a history of the T. Eaton Co. that will be published by The History Press. And Kopytek would like to add some stories about the Eaton's store that used to be located on West Street to that book.
© Photo from the Archives of Ontario
A picture of the Eaton's store on West Street in Corner Brook from the late 1950s or early 1960s.
The youngest in his family, Kopytek said he spent a lot of time shopping with his mother who would take him to stores in downtown Detroit. When the family travelled, checking out the local department stores of the places they visited was always part of the trip.
"I thought it was really interesting how each city had their own local store with a different name, a different logo. They each had a unique character that was local in nature."
Those trips often brought Kopytek and his family to Canada and it was in Toronto and Montreal that he became exposed to Eaton's
"I just thought it was a pretty incredible institution. And it was a little different than American department stores."
He said even if the American stores belong to a holding company or chain, for the most part they have their local headquarters in one city.
"And Eaton's had that local department store character, but it was all over Canada, which was different."
Kopytek is an architect by trade but after he lost his job decided to start a blog called "The Department Store Museum," http://departmentstoremuseum.blogspot.com.
"It has information about old department stores that are now gone," he said, noting much of the information is from things he saved over the years. The site, which has generated millions of hits, also contains memories and stories from other people.
The blog led to Kopytek being contacted by The History Press to see if he was interested in writing a book.
He's since written two. "Jacobson's: I Miss is So!" is about a Michigan department store that closed in 2002 and the other "Toledo's Three Ls: Lamson's, The Lion Store and Lasalle's" focuses on Ohio department stores.
Kopytek suggested to his editor that because Eaton's archives are located in the Archives of Ontario at York University in Toronto it would be a good source of information to write a book.
The History Press was interested in expanding its offerings in Canada and Kopytek started writing the book a few months ago. He has visited the archives and found pictures of various Eaton's stores and a number of historical documents.
"And I'm fascinated by the story."
Kopytek said there are a lot of other books out there on the Eatons, including those on Lady Eaton complete with recipes and those that present scathing reports of how the family business was squandered.
"So my challenge was to try to do something that was different," he said.
"I just want to make it a nostalgic look at what was a great store."
That search for nostalgia is what prompted him to send a letter to the editor to The Western Star.
"I'd always heard that there was an Eaton's store in Corner Brook, but I had very little information," said Kopytek.
In his letter he says he's looking for "interesting tales and anecdotes about Eaton's operations in Corner Brook," and encourages readers to share their experiences with him.
"Anything that anybody has that they want to tell me about would certainly enliven the book."
Kopytek can be reached by email at email@example.com or by calling 586-944-6715. He also said people can leave him a message on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EatonsTheTransCanadaStore.
He has a deadline of Sept. 1 to get his book to the publisher, but notes there will still be time during the editing process to add things. The book is expected to be available in time for Christmas.