Bear Essentials/Bethany Hills Interiors
Serving the Residents of Millbrook, Ontario for over 21 years
On February 3, 1996 Shelly Manley and Cheryl Gordon opened Bear Essentials for the first time at 26 King Street East, in Millbrook, Ontario. Shortly after, they took over the Sears Catalogue Agency and moved to larger premises at 30 King Street East. Then, in 2004, Bear Essentials moved to 40 King Street East.
On April 11th, 2005 Bonnie and Ian McQuarrie bought Bear Essentials from Shelly and Cheryl. Bonnie moved her Interior Design Business, Bethany Hills Interiors, into the store and added Home Decor to the mix of merchandise in the store. Within a month, it was obvious that the new selection of merchandise was popular with Shoppers. Shelly came back to help Bear Essentials grow and stayed until the end of 2008. Later in 2005, Debbie and Terri joined the staff to help handle the growing business. Marie came to Bear Essentials in 2006 and Terri joined Bethany Hills Interiors in 2007. Ella, Dayna, Linda and Sherlene joined the staff and helped customers find the perfect gift.
“When we bought Bear Essentials we were planning, perhaps a five year stay” said Ian. “The response from the Community was so good that we kept increasing the selection. Soon, it was apparent that we were staying more than five years”
“The past, almost thirteen years, have flown by. We have a huge number of regular customers and Bonnie has helped a growing list of Clients redecorate their homes”
By 2007, Bear Essentials was becoming very crowded with merchandise. It was obvious that when the Christmas Season arrived, there would be so much merchadise in the store that there would be no room for Shoppers! On October 9, 2007, Bethany Hills Interiors moved out of Bear Essentials to a new location at 17 King Street East in Millbrook. Terri, Sherlene and Linda were in the new store to help shoppers find the perfect piece for their home.
“The new location for Bethany Hills Interiors was beautiful.” said Bonnie “We were thrilled with the magnificent staircase and our little Art Gallery on the second floor. We were able to display Canadian Made furniture and added Lampe Berger to our mix of products. The only drawback, from my perspective, was all of the time I needed to spend at the store. I prefer visiting Clients and helping them create beautiful rooms. Opening and closing the store sometimes interferred with the amount of time I wanted to spend in a Client’s home.”
By the summer of 2008, Bear Essentials was becoming crowded again. On September 29th, 2008 Bear Essentials Too opened at 12 King Street East. The Sears Catalogue Agency moved into the new store to free up space at Bear Essentials.
“One of the reasons we initially considered buying Bear Essentials was the presence of the Sears Catalogue Agency. It brought a steady stream of Customers through the door. Also, I had worked for Sears for 20 years and then had been a Supplier to Sears for another 10 years. I was quite comfortable with all of Sears’ Policies and Procedures”
In February 2009, Bear Esentials took over all the space on the ground floor at 12 King Street East. When the renovations were finished, on Easter Weekend, the total space occupied was almost triple the original space at 40 King Street East. All of Bear Essentials merchandise was moved to the new location and 40 King Street East was closed at the end of April, 2009.
“It seemed I spent a lot of time moving Merchandise and Store Fixtures up and down King Street. We kept trying new things and expanding areas the Customers told us they liked. Organic food, Green toys and Bamboo towels and sheets were not areas we even considered when we were planning the business.”
In March, 2010, Sears Catalogue Agency was moved out of Bear Essentials to Armstrong's Village Florist and Gifts. Bethany Hills Interiors was moved into the space vacated by Sears and finally the two businesses were reunited.
“We had to sacrifice displaying furniture when we joined the stores again and we didn’t have much room to display original local Art. Thankfully, Debra opened Village Gallery Originals and the Art had a new home. Giving up the Sears Catalogue Agency was a hard decision. It still brought a lot of customers through the door and was a steady source of revenue. Luckily, Fern was able to accommodate the Sears business and we still had a location for Sears in the Community ”
“Reuniting the stores has allowed me to devote more time to my Clients.” said Bonnie. “I can spend as much time as I need to with each Client and not have to rush back to the store. It was a great experience to have the separate location but I prefer what we have now. I have been able to make arrangements with severa local Retailers to use their Showrooms and, of course, I worked closely with Debra at Village Gallery Originals.” We now display as much Local art as we can and Galerie Q and Cavan Art Academy and Gallery have many fine pieces of art. The new Millbrook Gallery is expected to open sooon.
Bear Essentials serves the entire Township of Cavan-Monaghan and has many regular customers from Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Bowmanville and Port Hope. Bethany Hills Interiors serves a much wider territory, encompassing Lindsay, Peterborough, Cobourg, Port Hope, Newcastle, Orono, Bowmanville, Oshawa, Whitby, Brooklyn, Port Perry and beyond.