After 121 years in business, Maheu family says goodbye

EMBRUN – After 121 years of serving the Embrun community, co-owners Jacques Maheu and Suzanne Lemieux are saying goodbye to generations of patrons who have loyally shopped at their local furniture store.

Maheu BrandSource Home Furnishings co-owners Jacques Maheu (left) and Suzanne Lemieux are retiring from their fourth-generation family store in Embrun by the end of the year. Press Photo – Gosselin

Maheu BrandSource Home Furnishings started in 1896 as a general store, eventually morphing into a go-to spot for customers across Eastern Ontario to buy furniture, appliances, and accessories for any room.

The brother-sister duo have been managing the store’s operations for more than 30 years – but with no one to take over the business, they are taking a step back into retirement.

The shop has been on the market for nearly nine months.

“We love what we do, and love what we’ve been able to be a part of, but at the end of the day, we have to think about what is best for us and our family,” said Lemieux, who started her career as a teacher before joining her four brothers, Michel, René, Robert, and Jacques at the family-run store.

Eventually, she and Jacques took the reins, and have been a staple shop in Embrun’s downtown core.

“It will be bittersweet leaving,” added Lemieux. “I’ve been surprised that so many customers are sad that we are closing, but also happy for us. Some customers say they bought their first couch from our grandfather.”

Their great-grandfather Omer Maheu was the pioneer of the family, first establishing the store in the late 1890s as a general store. After some time, their grandfather Osias took the helm, and then their father Jean-Paul. During that time, the business stock started to shift from a general store, to a more of a specialty store for household items, hardware, and electronics.

Omer Maheu (left, first owner), Osias Maheu (second-generation owner), and Jean-Paul Maheu (third-generation owner).

In the 1950s, the shop was officially known as the local furniture and appliance store. It wasn’t until 2012 that the company joined forces with the BrandSource label and became a franchise.

“So much has changed over the years, but it has been the connections in the community that I have enjoyed the most,” said Maheu, who is looking forward to spending more time with family. “I’d like to think [Omer] would be proud to see how far we’ve come. It will be sad to let it go.”

A major storewide retirement sale has now been launched, with the co-owners hoping they can liquidate as much as possible before closing by year’s end.

“It’s hard to say when the actual closing date will be, but we will keep our clients up to date with that,” added Lemieux.

The new store hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 am to 6 pm, Thursday and Friday from 9 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. Mondays the store will be closed.