Cathy Kazenbroot is celebrating her 35th year as proprietor of Parksville’s Wool Shop — at 85 years of age. — J.R. Rardon photo

85-year-old Parksville entrepreneur still going strong

The Wool Shop celebrates 35th anniversary in November

Cathy Kazenbroot is not the first entrepreneur to celebrate 35 years in business on mid-Vancouver Island.

But she may be the first to do so at age 85.

In November, Kazenbroot will celebrate the 35th anniversary of her opening of The Wool Shop in Parksville’s Pioneer Plaza. She opened the shop at age 50, after 12 years helping her husband Hank operate motels in Qualicum Beach and French Creek.

“It was something to do,” said Kazenbroot, a native of the Netherlands who emigrated to Canada in 1955. “All my kids had left and I had a big, empty house.”

The decision on what type of business to start was not hard. She had been a lifelong knitter — “All European ladies do; we learned to knit early,” she says — and the choice ultimately boiled down to a store catering to knitters, or one catering to chocolate lovers.

“I figured I better choose yarn,” Kazenbroot said with a quick smile. “I love chocolate too much.”

Stepping into her shop is a bit like a trip back in time.

There are no signs welcoming credit or debit cards — she accepts only cash or cheque, and does not use a credit card herself. And don’t even ask about a website or social media page.

“I have no computer. I have no cell phone,” Kazenbroot said. “I am a simple woman.”

Oh, there are modern needles and accessories on the shelves. But along with the numerous skeins of yarn and patterns are hand-knitted clothing items and baby booties of a type not much different from those Kazenbroot may have created as a girl in Holland.

There is an entire corner devoted to baby yarns and patterns, knitting magazines and cross-stitch and crochet materials.

She keeps a comfortable chair alongside her circular sales counter, where she sits and knits during quiet moments. And when a customer comes in experiencing a problem with some knitting technique or item, Kazenbroot has them sit alongside and offers tips and lessons at no charge.

“I’m not going to come back at night and do classes,” she said. “But they can come in any time and bring their problem and I’ll help. I don’t mind.”

Kazenbroot, who has been widowed since Hank died nine years ago, has five children — four of whom still live on Vancouver Island — seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She has remained in business, in the same location, not out of a need for the income, but from a love of getting up every day to be among other knitters and to stay active and engaged in the community.

“It was a hobby,” she said of her start in 1982. “I had no pressure on me, and I still don’t. It keeps me healthy and happy and it keeps me here in the community.

“It’s a nice pastime for the ladies. It beats going to the psychiatrist, anytime.”

Asked if she had any plans to retire, Kazenbroot flashed her smile again.

“That’s what my customers ask,” she said. “I tell them, they’ll have to carry me out.”

The Wool Shop is located at 9-281 East Island Highway in Parksville. Hours are 9:30 a.m-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., and 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday. For more info, call the store’s landline at 250-248-3821.

For story tips: editor@pqbnews.com

Just Posted

Cycle of Life Tour seeks donations for hospice society

Riders will cycle 200 km to help keep hospice care in motion

Regional trails closed due to fire hazard

The Regional District of Nanaimo is closing trails within its jurisdictions effective… Continue reading

Qualicum Beach to ban all open burning

Prohibition takes effect at noon, Wednesday

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Parksville fun park celebrating 30 years after starting with mini-golf course

Managers share what the view has been like from the castle

VIDEO: Skydivers land at Beach Day in Qualicum Beach

Sandy arrival one of various attractions at annual event July 15

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

City orders largest Kinder Morgan protest camp to leave

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

Most Read