Lori Vodon, a Welcome Wagon representative for 15 years, s saddened that the company is closing. (Contributed photo).

Welcome Wagon says ‘goodbye’ in Red Deer and across the country

The company fell victim to changing practises and COVID-19 measures

For decades, newcomers to Red Deer and other central Alberta communities were visited by a friendly stranger bearing gifts.

The Welcome Wagon lady would bring them greetings, as well as small gifts and coupons from local businesses, and information about services.

But those home visits — considered by some to be a throwback to gentler times — are now truly a thing of the past.

This week, Welcome Wagon Canada announced it’s closing and filing for bankruptcy — a victim of changing practices, as well as COVID-19 business shutdowns and self-isolation.

“This decision has been very heartbreaking and difficult to make,” wrote the company’s president and CEO, Pat Neuman, to her business clients.

But “rapidly declining visits across Canada, and now the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown,” have made Welcome Wagon insolvent…

“Without visits (personal contact) and your businesses open … we cannot survive,” added Neuman.

The company forecast four to five months without revenue, “which has led us to this decision.”

Lori Vodon, a Welcome Wagon representative in Red Deer for the past 15 years, said she’ll miss greeting newcomers and new mothers, as well as interacting with her long-term business clients.

Having had a Welcome Wagon visit herself, after giving birth to her now 18-year-old son, Vodon feels many others will miss this human contact — as well as the free diaper bag and coupons — in a world that’s gone online.

Since she believes it was a great way for many businesses to expand their client base, Vodon is looking at ways to possibly continue offering a similar service on a local level.

Welcome Wagon became a fully Canadian company in 1979. It was inspired by frontier pioneers who greeted newcomers in their Conestoga Wagons.

Red Deer resident Lyn Radford received a Welcome Wagon visit when she moved to the city in 1986.

She recalled being glad to get this service: “I was a young mom with four kids and I didn’t know where to go for playschool, gymnastics or anything…”

But Radford feels it’s a different world now, with Google and the internet — and even people being more suspicious of letting strangers into their homes.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta gov’t confirms just seven new COVID-19 cases across province

Just seven new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by the provincial government… Continue reading

PHOTO: Food Truck Drive and Dash in Red Deer

Food Truck Fridays launched its new drive-thru style event this week. Throughout… Continue reading

RCMP still on the lookout for missing Sylvan Lake man

Sylvan Lake RCMP is reaching out to the public with a renewed… Continue reading

WATCH: Hundreds gather in downtown Red Deer to protest racism

Hundreds of Red Deerians gathered in City Hall Park to peacefully protest… Continue reading

PODCAST: Black Lives Matter in central Alberta

Community organizers come on the show to discuss central Albertan anti-racist movement

City of Red Deer developing plan to reopen sports fields

As new provincial guidelines related to Alberta’s relaunch continue to roll out,… Continue reading

Books being sold for $20 a box in drive-by sale

A Red Deer non-profit agency is hosting a drive-by book sale. Shalom… Continue reading

If you’re going shopping, please be sure to wear a mask

If you want my opinion, everyone should be wearing a mask while… Continue reading

MLB players reaffirm pay stance, no deal with teams in sight

NEW YORK — Baseball players reaffirmed their stance for full prorated pay,… Continue reading

B.C. Lions players Burnham, Johnson admit they feel safer in Canada than in U.S.

B.C. Lions players Bryan Burnham and Micah Johnson say they feel safer… Continue reading

Universal takes first steps reviving Orlando theme park biz

ORLANDO, Fla. — With masks on their faces and temperature checks at… Continue reading

US commercial casinos won $43.6 billion in 2019, up 3.7%

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Helped by the continuing spread of legal sports… Continue reading

Alberta Opposition calls on government to consult on provincial parks

Alberta Opposition calls on government to consult on provincial parks

Most Read