After 47 years in business serving Bancroft and the surrounding area, McCaskie TV and Stereo closed its doors for the last time on Oct. 17. Owner Mike McCaskie comments to The Bancroft Times on his store’s closing after nearly 50 years, his semi-retirement and what he’ll do going forward, post store closure. After announcing their retirement/closing sale on their Facebook page on Aug. 28 to liquidate their inventory, McCaskie TV and Stereo’s last day was on Oct. 17. Opening back in 1976, McCaskie tells The Bancroft Times that he started it all up because he needed a job.
“I started in a trailer. I’d been working for Ontario Hydro and I bought a trailer and went around to auctions picking stuff up to sell. I moved from there to a cabin and then to my father’s barn. I moved into town after buying a menswear shop in 1984,” he says.
McCaskie TV and Stereo had up to three locations over the years; in downtown Bancroft, on Hwy 28 South (where the Faraday Animal Hospital now operates) and in Barry’s Bay. However, they consolidated everything into their present location on Bancroft’s main street at 59 Hastings Street North, back in 2006, which formerly housed Home Hardware.
McCaskie says he’s seen Bancroft change dramatically over the past 47 years.
“It’s changed quite a bit. But the great people that live here haven’t changed much in that time,” he says.
As to challenges faced as a business owner over the years, McCaskie says that every two to three years, a new product would come out, from eight tracks, to cassettes, to CDs, to DVDs.
“I didn’t think the CDs would go over, because you couldn’t record them at that time and then I was getting asked for CDs. So, a lot of changes in the electronics. But I’d say in the last five years, no big changes. Everything has gone to streaming, which is not the quality of sound you used to get. There were always people wanting good sound in the home. Now it’s more or less, as long as you have some background music, that’s good enough,” he says.
McCaskie’s fondest memories over the past 47 years were meeting all the people that came into the store.
“You get to know your customers. They’re just like friends rather than customers. Especially when we were stocking and selling movies. We were pretty big on movies at one time. So, you get to know a lot of people,” he says.
McCaskie says the feedback on the retirement/closing sale was pretty positive, although the closing sale went a lot more quickly than he thought it would.
“I figured three months to get the stock down. In the first month, pretty much all the bigger stuff was gone. It went a lot faster than I thought,” he says.
McCaskie says they travelled a lot years ago, so he and his wife Gail will be unlikely to do so now that the store has closed down.
“With a lot of these companies back then like Panasonic, you could get a trip pretty easily. I went to Japan in 1982 with Panasonic with their manufacturing facilities [when McCaskie TV and Stereo carried Panasonic equipment]. We were with Sharp and went to England and they had a big advertising deal with Manchester United so we went to a soccer game with thousands of people. It was wild,” he says.
In his retirement, or semi-retirement to be more accurate, McCaskie says he’ll be keeping busy working part-time at his gravel pit north of town, McCaskie’s Aggregates. He says he’ll miss the customers and his employees at McCaskie TV and Stereo most, who he says all got along really well, but it was time to move on to something else after 47 years.
Sue Davis, who worked at McCaskie TV and Stereo, said she really like working there and they were good employers. She said she was always learning new things and it never got old, even after 17 years.
“My bosses, Amy and Mike, were the best to work for. My co-workers worked great as a team. I never minded going to work. I will miss the most our customers that made us feel needed and greatly appreciated. It was a great feeling,” she says.
McCaskie told The Bancroft Times that as far as the people of Bancroft go, they’ve been good to him.
“It’s been good. It’s worked out okay, just more or less going on to another adventure!”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times