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

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

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A still image from security camera video recorded June 8 shows an individual lighting trash on fire in the doorway of 19+ Cannabis Store on Victoria Crescent. RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue are investigating numerous fires set in downtown Nanaimo in the past three months. (Photo submitted)
‘It’s out of control’: More than 20 fires set in downtown Nanaimo in past 3 months

Authorities asking business owners to keep dumpsters locked

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Most Read