Central leaving Guysborough

A disappointment to local customers

By Lois Ann Dort    

GUYSBOROUGH – On December 31, 2016 Central Building Supplies officially changed ownership from the entrepreneurial hands of Steve Smith of Antigonish to the Kent Building Supplies chain, owned by J.D. Irving Ltd. of New Brunswick. This past week, word spread around Guysborough that the Central location that serves the area would be closing in the near future; staff had been given notice.

While staff at the store were unable to comment on the closure, even when the last day of business is scheduled, and the parent company did not return The Journal’s inquires on the matter, locals are disappointed and unhappy to learn of the loss of the business from the area.

The building supply store in West Cooks Cove was originally opened in 1999 by Dorian Harnish under the name County Building Supply. Mark Harnish, Dorian’s son, worked in the business with his father until they sold it to Steve Smith in 2002. Mark Harnish spoke to The Journal about the impending closure of the business last Sunday.

“It’s premature for this area. It shouldn’t be happening. The business is there,” said Harnish of the closure.

“The reason why we sold out to Steve Smith was because he had the manpower and the technology and the tools to take it to the next level...That is a $5 million a year store in sales, if it is done correctly,” he said, noting that knowing how big corporations work, the writing was on the wall after the buyout by Kent Building Supplies, that the store in Guysborough would close.

Steve Smith, said Harnish, wanted to give back to the community and as long as he owned the business, it would stay in the community. But with a big company at the helm, there was little hope that the operation would be considered profitable enough to maintain, he said. “They don’t understand the culture of running a small business in Nova Scotia.”

Harnish currently runs his own small business, M.E. Harnish Heating & Ventilation, and said he is a customer at Central on a daily basis. “I buy a lot of my tools there, my masonry products. I need calking, spray foam. The store would unload my freight for me if it was too big for the truck to fit in my yard. They would be obliging enough to unload that for me and in turn I would support them.”

When asked about the impact of Central’s closure on local businesses in Guysborough, Harnish said, “What you got to understand is, before when people went out of town for that sheet of plywood, they bought their groceries on the same trip, or their propane, or their utensils for the kitchen; that sort of thing. When we had plywood here, they did all those things locally. Now, a lot of services will be affected because that plywood, is again, out of town...They’re really going to see the impact of it not being here.”