End of an era: Wolfville mainstay The Market sold after 43 years

Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca
Published on June 13, 2014

Pain has caused Rick Daniels, a fixture in Wolfville’s downtown, to sell his business, The Market, after 43 years.

“I used to be a party animal,” he says. “Now, I’m an old guy.”

Two injuries to one foot, the latest in February, have made Daniels feel as if he is “walking on nails. So I decided I’m gonna get out.”

Daniels sold the shop to a young Wolfville native, Tiago Voss, and along with his wife, Michelle, Daniels is retiring. The deal goes through June 14.

“I’ve had a great relationship with my suppliers and my clients,” Daniels says of the head shop he opened in 1971. He recalls wondering, at the time, if it would last longer than a month.

But luck was with the young couple. They had no backing and lived in the rear of the store, without central heating or hot water. Yet, eight years later, they were able to purchase the building, which now contains three businesses.

In 1985, the headline of an article in the Kings County Advertiser newspaper suggested The Market showed surprising longevity after being open for 15 years.

In those days, he said, there were no craft markets or flea markets and there were no young people in business in Wolfville. Daniels carved out a niche selling what young people wanted to buy. Not surprisingly, his biggest customer group is Acadia University students.

Everyone from local youth to visiting tourists have seemed to appreciate his style of shop keeping. Daniels is often found casually chatting on the sidewalk accompanied by Hector, one of a series of Doberman dogs he’s owned.


Vibrant downtown

Daniels terms Wolfville’s downtown as vibrant.

“There’s rarely a gap. In the early 90s, there was a shift. The biggest change has been the growth in coffee shops.”

He thinks a moment, and adds, “Retail has stayed strong. The growth in bars was not as dramatic, but when we came there were none.”

He believes the local mindset is far more open and more inviting today, although Daniels recalls the warmth of Al Whittle and the late Doug Cochrane.

Vehicle traffic passing by his door on Main Street, Daniels says, is probably three times what it was 40 years ago.

“It’s insane. Everybody drives,” he says. “I’m going to miss the hum of the downtown, especially in the fall when the college opens.”


Injury prompts retirement

Until recently, he was active biking and playing handball. Daniels says nerve damage can transform a lifestyle in a split second. Now he doesn’t feel able to put on a brave face.

“I get lots of sympathy,” he adds, “but it doesn’t help.”

Daniels misses his younger self, the other Rick who went into business when Pierre Trudeau talked about legalizing marijuana.

“Now his son (Justin Trudeau) is making the same promise.”