Country cupboard changing owners

Leila West retired from Country Cupboard Giftshop some 15 years ago to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Former Country Cupboard owners Brian and Leila West

Leila West retired from Country Cupboard Giftshop some 15 years ago to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Next month, she’ll try again.

Leila and her husband Brian, who have owned the downtown store since 1996, are selling the 5022 50th Ave. business to Don and Cathy Edwards.

The official transfer will occur Nov. 1, although Leila plans to stick around for a few days to help with Country Cupboard’s annual Christmas Tree Days sale.

Don, who has worked in the oilpatch for years, and Cathy, who has a long history in the retail sector, have spent the past month learning the ropes.

They expect to operate the business much as the Wests have, with an emphasis on products originating locally, regionally and provincially.

Country Cupboard was started by Joan and Andrew Schrieber 25 years ago, with Leila joining as an employee in the early 1990s. She left after about three years.

“I thought that I was going to retire and have fun with my grandchildren.”

But a year and a half later she returned to help with the busy Christmas season.

“I came back about the middle of November, and Dec. 1 it was mine,” recalled Leila. “I made a very impulsive decision.”

After 13 years as a downtown business owner, she’s encouraged by the direction the area is headed.

In addition to commercial development, like construction of the Executive Place building, Leila thinks the nearby Riverlands area will have a positive impacts. So will proposed improvements to Gaetz Avenue and the movement toward increased residential space in the downtown.

“I think this store is in a really good location.”

Country Cupboard’s three longtime staff members will remain.

The Wests’ contingent of grandchildren has now expanded to 10, with these ranging in age from seven-month-old twins to a 21-year-old.

But Leila has no regrets about her decision to remain in the workplace, especially with Brian leaving his position with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development around 2002.

“It’s been a great way to spend our pre-retirement years.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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