Karen Singbeil spent 69 days this year locked in a house with 16 strangers, under constant surveillance and completely isolated from the outside world. She walked out of that house $20,000 richer, as runner-up of Big Brother Canada, Season 5.
As one who has a proven track record of achieving success from challenge, the mother of three is on to her next adventure – right here in Oak Bay. Karen Singbeil and her husband, Bruce Singbeil, have just taken over the Willows Park Grocery, Oak Bay’s longest-running business.
“The store has been here for 105 years,” says Karen Singbeil. “We are so excited to be in a store that has a long, long history with a community that loves it.”
The Singbeils’ vision for the corner store is to have community support by listening to what the neighbourhood wants. With schools and offices close by, Willows Park Grocery will be offering a selection of foods that are easy to grab and go, including sandwiches, hot dogs, taquitos, and baked goods.
“Unfortunately, we are not going to be carrying Indian food. That was specialty to Sarge (the previous owner),” says Karen Singbeil. “But I have looked into seeing if I can find some place that will do samosas and pakoras for us.”
The couple bring varied experience to their new business – both of them having been self-employed their whole lives. Karen Singbeil was a realtor for the last 21 years, but for the period before that she says: “30 years ago I owned a store similar to this in Scottsdale Arizona, so now you could say we have come full circle. We are on to our final and last stage, here on Vancouver Island in Victoria and we are so excited to do it. I hope you guys come and visit.”
The store is continuing to operate as Bruce and Karen Singbeil redecorate the interior.
Their hours are Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.