After owning and operating a jewellery store in the city for 35 years, husband and wife team, Roger and Susan Labrash were ready to slow down and take time to smell the proverbial roses. They weren’t quite ready for retirement, but yearned for a slower and more enjoyable pace, in a great locale. After considering all their options, they ended up joining a growing trend: they left the city and moved to a small town in Eastern Ontario. Now, they live in a beautiful waterfront home on Stoco lake, and run the Stoco Jewellery Studio, just five minutes away, in the idyllic little town of Tweed.
“We just love it here,” says Susan, as she describes their first few months of business in Tweed. Stoco Jewellery Studio opened about three years ago and is already enjoying a loyal clientele.
“Everyone is so friendly. During the first few weeks, several people came into the shop just to say hi, introduce themselves and welcome us. It really made us feel at home.”
Located in the middle of Hastings County, Tweed is a small town with a lot of charm and culture. The local arts and theatre scenes have been getting tons of attention over the past few years, and the County’s first winery, Potter Settlement, recently won several awards for its heritage varietals. The downtown area provides a lovely pedestrian experience with unique independent shops, cafes, galleries and restaurants.
“I’d like to see a few more clothing stores, but other than that, I can find anything I need or want right here in Tweed,” says Susan.
Her husband Roger is an accomplished goldsmith, who is enjoying having more time to connect with his customers individually, and take on unique custom and repair projects.
“Our other store was much bigger, with staff. We had to pass on little craft jobs,” he explains. “But I get to do them here, and it makes such a big difference to people. Old pieces of jewellery that might not even be worth a lot, but have tremendous sentimental value. I really enjoy being able to do that for people.”
The couple report that the biggest change since they relocated to Tweed is in their quality of life. They have given up commuting, traffic, and pollution, and now enjoy lakeside living, a friendly community, and a more manageable pace of life.
Every day, Roger goes home for lunch, walks the dog, and then comes back to the studio to work on custom jobs. His workshop above the showroom is a jeweller’s dream, with all kinds of custom tools and equipment including a high-tech engraving machine. He is completely in his element.
“We were actually able to invest in some incredible new equipment with help from the Central Hastings Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC),” says Roger. “There are so many great services and supports in Hastings County. It means I’ve been able to bring a lot of services to the area that just weren’t available before. And I’m very, very happy to be able to do that. We feel needed and appreciated here.”
Roger says he feels grateful all the time that he and Susan decided to take a leap of faith and leave the city.
“I have extended family here in Hastings County, and I’d been visiting every summer for years and years. Susan and I would come up in the summers to visit, and we would always go back to the city thinking, jeez, it’s so beautiful there.”
With the help of a local realtor, Roger and Susan found the perfect home, and began the process of selling their home and business in the city and moving to Tweed.
“It was a scary move,” admits Roger. “We didn’t know how we’d be received. We were moving from a city to this little village. So I was unsure at first. But I’m not unsure now. It was an excellent move. We’re very happy here.”
“I don’t know why more people don’t do it,” agrees Susan. “We love it here.”