By Grace Oborne
Robinson’s General Store in Dorset is celebrating an important milestone.
As the store turns 100 years old, new owners Mike and Katie Hinbest acknowledged the milestone on July 10 alongside former owner, Brad Robinson.
As of May 1, the couple became owners of Dorset’s renowned Robinson’s General Store after it had been a business that belonged to seven Robinson generations. Having reached such a significant milestone, Mike and Katie have plans to ensure that the success the store carried for 100 years is properly recognized.
“It’s hard with Covid, because we can’t really have a planned event, but we are going to decorate the outside. We’ve got big balloons coming and we ordered cupcakes,” said Katie.
The couple also want to celebrate Brad Robinson and his triumphs during his time with the store, “Mike and I plan to present Brad with a picture we are having made by a local artist, Mary An Blythe.” The couple presented the picture to Brad during a small celebration on Saturday, July 10.
Mike, Katie, and Brad feel strongly that their store wouldn’t run the way it does without their hardworking staff.
“We’ve been lucky here, in that we’ve been able to attract a lot of good students. Without those teenagers, we couldn’t run the store. Because we hire about 40 students every year. And we don’t have 40 people in Dorset looking for two month’s work. And it’s been a godsend. But one of the biggest things we have going for us is the other staff in the store as well. We have, I think, 10 year-round staff,” said Brad.
To celebrate the staff and their hard work, Mike and Katie have ordered “Robinson’s anniversary” sweaters to be made, along with other little celebratory gifts.
“There will only be 100 made and our staff will all get one, as well as the Robinson family. Then the rest will be for sale at the store to the lucky few who can scoop them up in time!”
To Brad Robinson, the celebration of the store’s 100th year reminds him of his father and the aspirations he had for Brad and the future success of the store.
“Years and years ago, my father said, ‘we will make the store so good people will have to come visit,’ and basically that is what has happened. We’ve been lucky that people come from far and wide to see our store.”
Since Mike and Katie took ownership of Robinson’s General Store, they say that their experience has been nothing short of amazing.
“Yes, it’s been crazy busy, but it’s been really good. We’ve both said, how much we enjoy it, and that we look forward to actually getting up in the morning and going to work,” Katie noted.
She added, “It feels like it never stops, but it doesn’t feel like work because it’s enjoyable. All the employees have also been so welcoming, so it’s been a really good transition.”
Though the community has embraced and welcomed Mike and Katie, there has been some concern that change in ownership could lead to changes at the store. The Hinbests express that there is absolutely nothing to worry about on that front. They are keen on keeping the Robinson brand and continuing the “Robinson way” about the store.
“Robinson’s is the name of Dorset, everybody knows it so I think it would be so stupid of us to change the name. It has such a wonderful legacy in Dorset that we have to keep the name,” said Katie.
“The people of Dorset were very, very concerned as to what was going to happen here,” Brad expressed. “One of the first things Mike did when he purchased the store was made an announcement saying, ‘don’t worry, the store is going to stay very much the same as it’s always been,’ and people have come to me since then and said, ‘thank goodness.’”
Mike and Katie are extremely passionate about the Robinson’s brand that they also carried it across the bridge to the marina that they own as well – The Robinson’s Marina and Powersports.
“We did that because we wanted people to know that we were the same owners as well and carry the consistency for what we want to, hopefully, bring to Dorset to make better for the town,” said Katie.
For more information about Robinson’s General Store, visit robinsonsgeneralstore.ca