© 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, it‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúThings have changed, you know what I mean?‚ÄĚ the company‚Äôs namesake, Charles Rudniski said of the business‚Äôs big move. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôve got to go with the flow. If you stay small you‚Äôre going to lose them.‚ÄĚ
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 business‚Äôs 39 years of operation, Charles said its 1975 grand opening came about, in part, because his job at a local bakery was killing him.
‚ÄúI was dying in there,‚ÄĚ he relayed. ‚ÄúThe (flour) dust was in my chest and I‚Äôd walk up stairs, three steps I had to sit down. My doctor told me, he said if I don‚Äôt quit I‚Äôll be six feet under in six weeks.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúThey were working with me, believe it or not, since I opened it,‚ÄĚ Charlie relayed -- a time Karl looks back on with fondness.
‚ÄúHe would throw me into the engine pile and say, see that engine there? Fix it -- take it apart and put it together,‚ÄĚ Karl said with a chuckle.
Expanding their storage space over the years into three separate buildings, Karl said that the business‚Äôs relocation into the Wheel-a-While roller skating rink facility will allow them to double their current storage and display space.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôd been looking to expand, for what?‚ÄĚ Karl asked his father.
‚Äú20 years,‚ÄĚ Charlie responded with a chuckle.
‚ÄúInstead of three or four tillers, maybe we‚Äôll be able to show the whole line,‚ÄĚ Karl explained.
You‚Äôve got to go with the flow. If you stay small you‚Äôre going to lose them. Charles Rudniski
‚ÄúWith 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.‚ÄĚ
Formerly a meat storage facility, the roller rink‚Äôs walls are a foot thick with about six inches of cork, Karl said -- a facet sure to result in a drop in heating costs.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs an old building and we‚Äôre looking to upgrade it a bit,‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúI think most of the vehicles in P.A. know how to get here ‚Ä¶ because they‚Äôve been dealing with is for so many years,‚ÄĚ he said.
Repair shops such as theirs are increasingly few and far between, Peter said, noting that we‚Äôre living in an increasingly ‚Äúthrow-away society where things are so cheap that they‚Äôre not worth fixing.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre lucky to have a large clientele, and a lot of people who move away, they still get a hold of us and say, ‚ÄėI‚Äôm looking for this or I‚Äôm looking for that,‚Äô‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúWe never really did much advertising over the years -- it was word of mouth that people would bring.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI come here and sit for coffee and I don‚Äôt know how many old fellows who come in here who dealt with me,‚ÄĚ Charlie said. ‚ÄúThe people have never left me.‚ÄĚ
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.