Clearview General Store welcomes new ownersJul 24, 2020 08:24AM ● By Editor
By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - July 24, 2020
When Gail Thompson decided to advertise her Clearview business for sale, she said, “I expected it to take up to three years to sell. That’s what everybody was telling me.”
Instead of three years, as soon as the business hit the real-estate pages, offers came in. One, in particular, made the most sense, said Thompson. “It’s from a local.”
That local turned out to be Chris Homyak.
With that, it took little time to wrap up a deal between her and Chris, who left his head chef position at Lutsen Resort to take on a new challenge.
“I’ve been cooking since I was 19,” Chris said. “I’m 33 now and I felt it was time to make a career change. It was time to try to make a better future for my wife, Flavia, and Ethan, who is two and one-half years-old.”
Chris has been coming to Cook County since he was little. “I learned to ski at Lutsen Mountains when I was five. I moved here full time in April 2008, to take an internship at Lutsen Resort under head Chef Rob Wells and I never left.”
As exciting as the new challenge is, Chris admitted, “It’s hard starting a new venture in the COVID-19 era, where there are a lot of rules and a lot of unknowns.”
To keep customers and staff safe, Chris is installing more Plexiglas around the register and adding additional hand sanitizer stations throughout the store. “All of my staff will wear masks, but we won’t require that all customers wear masks at this time,” he said. “Some thing’s around COVID-19 will be a challenge, but we will figure them out.”
“Gail has done a tremendous job here and really grew the business,” said Chris. “My plan is to take it a step further. I see a lot of potential to grow, but it’s going to take some time.”
Some of the ideas he is contemplating include adding “grab and go lunches,” adding propane tank rentals, expanding the grocery store and building the outdoor sales section with the addition of tents, sleeping bags, lamps, cook stoves, and adding more fishing gear.
Down the road further, Chris plans to install new flooring, expand the space, raise the roof ’s height, put in new lighting, and increase the grocery and produce line.
“My wife, Flavia, will help when she can. She works at North Shore Health as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in an essential job. She loves her work, but she will come here on her free time to give me a break. We are also working together on new product offerings. She is looking at sales items for kids. My mom takes care of Ethan when both my wife and I are working. She still works full-time from home for the University of Minnesota Public Health, where she is a grant writer, writing grants for COVID- 19 research.”
Chris’s dad, David, is also helping out. On the day of this interview David was busy as a beaver putting away frozen items just received from a vendor truck.
“Dad’s going to help on truck days,” said Chris. “It’s a family business. I’m excited, but I have a lot to learn. We want to serve the community and be of service to the community.” Chris paused, and then added, “I like what Paul Wellstone said: We all do better when we all do better.” Smiling, he stopped for a minute to check an item his father had brought in that wasn’t tagged on the shelf. It was time to go. Chris and David were busy. We said our goodbyes and as I left the words of Paul Wellstone echoed in my thoughts. They were appropriate words. Nevermore so than in this pandemic period. “We all do better when we all do better.”
Since the interview mask wearing has become mandatory statewide and Clearview will be following the state mandate.
To read the original story and see related articles, follow this link to the Cook County News Herald. https://www.cookcountynews-herald.com/articles/clearview-general-store-welcomes-new-owners/