© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
The Charles Repair and Service family is seen in the downtown Prince Albert store this week. From left is founder Charles Rudniski, son Peter, wife Adeline, and son Karl.
A well-established Prince Albert repair shop is celebrating its 40th anniversary this autumn by doubling their capacity.
Although excited to change locations, itâs with a heavy heart that the Charles Repair and Service family is moving the business from its current 140 Eight St. E. location to 110 18th St. W.
âThings have changed, you know what I mean?â the companyâs namesake, Charles Rudniski said of the businessâs big move. âYouâve got to go with the flow. If you stay small youâre going to lose them.â
Charles retired in 1996 but has continued to drop by the business on a regular basis to check in on sons Karl and Peter, who currently own and operate the small motor and machinery sales and repair shop.
Reflecting on the businessâs 39 years of operation, Charles said its 1975 grand opening came about, in part, because his job at a local bakery was killing him.
âI was dying in there,â he relayed. âThe (flour) dust was in my chest and Iâd walk up stairs, three steps I had to sit down. My doctor told me, he said if I donât quit Iâll be six feet under in six weeks.â
A battery shop at 140 Eighth St. E. struck his fancy, and after getting a good deal on the property, he bought it.
Over the years, his sons Karl and Peter were shown the ins and outs of the business, joining him and his wife, Adeline, in taking care of things.
âThey were working with me, believe it or not, since I opened it,â Charlie relayed -- a time Karl looks back on with fondness.
âHe would throw me into the engine pile and say, see that engine there? Fix it -- take it apart and put it together,â Karl said with a chuckle.
Expanding their storage space over the years into three separate buildings, Karl said that the businessâs relocation into the Wheel-a-While roller skating rink facility will allow them to double their current storage and display space.
âWeâd been looking to expand, for what?â Karl asked his father.
â20 years,â Charlie responded with a chuckle.
âInstead of three or four tillers, maybe weâll be able to show the whole line,â Karl explained.
Youâve got to go with the flow. If you stay small youâre going to lose them. Charles Rudniski
âWith the economy the way it is, it seems to be on the upswing, so to be able to expand this is probably a good time for us.â
Formerly a meat storage facility, the roller rinkâs walls are a foot thick with about six inches of cork, Karl said -- a facet sure to result in a drop in heating costs.
âItâs an old building and weâre looking to upgrade it a bit,â he said.
Renovations will start shortly after the final Wheel-a-While skate on Saturday.
Once they move into their new facility, it may take some time before long-time customers adapt to the change, Karl surmised.
âI think most of the vehicles in P.A. know how to get here âŠ because theyâve been dealing with is for so many years,â he said.
Repair shops such as theirs are increasingly few and far between, Peter said, noting that weâre living in an increasingly âthrow-away society where things are so cheap that theyâre not worth fixing.â
However, a large core group of people has grown up trusting Charles Repair and Service, Karl said, noting that some have been with them since the beginning.
âWeâre lucky to have a large clientele, and a lot of people who move away, they still get a hold of us and say, âIâm looking for this or Iâm looking for that,ââ he said.
âWe never really did much advertising over the years -- it was word of mouth that people would bring.â
âI come here and sit for coffee and I donât know how many old fellows who come in here who dealt with me,â Charlie said. âThe people have never left me.â
The Charles Repair and Service family plan on opening their new building at 110 18th St. W. in September, Karl said.
Crown Cleaners and Crown Vacuums will open up shop at the current Charles Repair and Service location, at 140 Eighth St. E.