A key cog of Cook Street Village for the past quarter decade is leaving the neighbourhood.
For 32 years, the Cook Street Marketplace has served fresh produce, eggs and flowers, and even a song or two from owner John de Jong.
But now at age 76, de Jong says it’s time to retire and pursue his love of music.
“I’ve been playing for 60 years, so I’ve got lots of songs to play for people,” he says.
De Jong has worked seven days a week for over three decades, and says he’s excited that now he’ll be able to do afternoon performances at venues, something he’s never been able to do before.
Retiring will also give de Jong a chance to spend time with his wife of 58 years, June, who helped work the shop with him when she was younger.
De Jong used to be the produce manager for 11 years at a grocery store where the Rexall Pharmacy is now located, but when that business was bought out he decided to open his own.
The market has seen a lot of change in the village, changes which helped de Jong choose to retire.
“It’s just time to close her down because things have changed in the neighbourhood; the demographics now and the bank moved,” de Jong says. “The past three years things have been changing a bit, we don’t get as much traffic flow.”
In the past year the village has seen a significant makeover; the long-standing Pic-A-Flic video store is moving after 35 years, a marijuana dispensary just opened down the street, and a rental housing complex is being built.
Nonetheless, de Jong said he’s had very loyal customers that he’s grateful for.
The market’s final day will be Sept. 30, when a small retirement party will be held with cake and coffee, and serenades from de Jong himself.
Any leftover produce from the last day will be donated to the Mustard Seed.