WATCH: It’s the end of an era for a beloved business in Victoria’s Cook Street Village. Ceilidh Millar reports.
John de Jong sells fresh produce, flowers and eggs at the Cook Street Marketplace in Victoria’s Cook Street Village.
De Jong opened the shop at 333 Cook Street more than three decades ago.
“I’m 76-years-old now,” De Jong said. “It’s time to pull the plug and stay sane!”
In 1951, De Jong moved to Victoria from Ontario with his family.
Their family immigrated from Holland to Canada in 1945.
“We drove across the country in an old Chrysler,” he said with a laugh.
For several years, De Jong worked down the street at another producer store before he decided to open his own.
“I was just here at the right time,” he explained.
De Jong said some of his favourite moments during that time include marrying his wife, raising a family and telling tales from days gone by.
“I was here during the blizzard of 1996,” he said. “You couldn’t even see the bank [across the street] the snow was so high!”
De Jong also enjoys playing the guitar while customers are shopping.
“I have over 3,000 songs in my head so I’ve been playing for over 50 years,” he said.
Many of his customers are sad to see him close down after all of these years.
“The first time I came here I was short $1.50 and he let me go,” said one customer. “It was good business because I’ve been coming back ever since!”
“He’s become a fixture here,” said another. “He’s really going to be missed a lot.”
A retirement party will be held for De Jong on Sunday, September 30 in Cook Street Village.