Natalie and Kevin Smith are the new owners of Port Alberni's Canadian Tire.

Natalie and Kevin Smith are the new owners of Port Alberni's Canadian Tire.

New Canadian Tire owners move coast to coast

New Canadian Tire owners Kevin and Natalie Smith were raised in Blind River, Ont., and landed in central Vancouver Island a month ago.

New Canadian Tire owners move coast to coast Port Alberni Canadian Tire’s new owners, Kevin and Natalie Smith, were raised in the small town of Blind River, Ont., and landed in central Vancouver Island not quite a month ago from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

“We literally moved from coast to coast,” says Kevin Smith, taking a break in his office overlooking the automotive section of the store.

Smith, who previously owned a Canadian Tire in Cochrane, Ont., said they were looking for a small town where they can raise their daughter Sydney, four. He turned down offers in Ottawa and Toronto before seeing the listing for Port Alberni’s store.

“When this came for sale I jumped on the opportunity to buy it because it fit everything we need,” he said.

“This is what we wanted: a small town feel with amenities. You’ve got everything you need here in town. And I find Port Alberni has a big heart.”

Smith had never been west of Weyburn, Sask., before coming out to check out the store and look for a house. He grew up working in his parents’ grocery store, then held various positions at Home Depot for 15 years before a cousin, also a Canadian Tire dealer, convinced him to move.

The opportunity allowed him to stay at the store level, where Smith says he is happiest.

A hunting and fishing enthusiast—he plans to expand this section of the store—Smith is already involved with Ducks Unlimited and is eager to join other community groups. “Kids are our main focus—kids playing sports, through our JumpStart (program),” he said.

A self-confessed “motorhead”, Smith rides a Harley Davidson XR1200 and says he loves the automotive department at Canadian Tire. He was excited to watch the Port Alberni Toy Run this year, and says he wants to ride in it next  September.

Smith is also a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to his home, so has first-hand knowledge with corresponding product lines as well as the automotive section.

While Smith acknowledges he is still settling in — he and Natalie have been in Port Alberni for less than one month — he says he welcomes customer input.

“I want to do the best job I possibly can to provide great customer service and product when they need it,” he said.

“I also want to know the good and the bad. I have an open door; any feedback is good feedback.”

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