The grand opening of the Dairy Queen in July 1954. (COURTESY OF LAIRD LIDSTER)
The current look of the Dairy Queen at 18th Street and Park Avenue. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Some may say it’s a little bit of heaven here on Earth. Sundaes, banana splits, Blizzards, peanut butter parfaits, vanilla dipped … all kinds of wonderful treats available at Dairy Queen!
In many cities, including Brandon, there are DQ locations that are open year-round. But I know that many, many people (including myself!) look forward to March rolling around and the opening of our seasonal Dairy Queen store on the corner of 18th Street and Park Avenue.
This year, in honour of its upcoming 60th anniversary, the store opened on the traditional date of March 1, which just happened to be -36 C (-49 C with the wind chill). Without a doubt though, customers were there to get their Blizzard fix!
Dairy Queen opened in July 1954. It’s an iconic business in Brandon and thanks to the Lidster family it continues to satisfy our cravings for tasty treats. Currently owned by Laird Lidster and his wife Tracy, this is one family that’s incredibly proud of their business.
"The store itself is celebrating its 60th anniversary," Lidster said. "However, it’s been in our family for 41 years. My Uncle Laird, whom I was named after, originally bought it. But a short time later after his unfortunate death in 1974, my dad jumped in. Then, when Dad retired in 2007, I took over."
The Lidster family also owns the Dairy Queen/Orange Julius store in Shoppers Mall; they’ve had that location since 2000.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary, a staff reunion is taking place on June 22 at Kin Park, located at First Street and Aberdeen Avenue, from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. It will be a family oriented barbecue for anyone who has worked at Dairy Queen.
Lidster said tracking down employees has been the difficult in part because there have been so many and because they are living throughout the world.
"I know there are people that worked for us living in London and Australia," Lidster said. We’ve always had a lot of good support staff and many people have a lot of fond memories of working here. In the past, when my dad had the store, we had daytime staff that had been with us for close to 20 years. This is a very nostalgic store, there’s a lot of history here."
Watch for a summer sale in the middle of July and other specials to celebrate Dairy Queen’s anniversary. I know I’ll be there to splurge and enjoy my favourite Blizzard!
If you’d like to see some fun, historical photos or get some more information on the Dairy Queen reunion, go to facebook.com/dq60reunion or email dairyqueenbrandon @gmail.com.
Printing shop on move
In keeping with a theme of family-run businesses, I recently had a conversation with Michelle Hay, owner of Big Bear Custom Cresting. Hay has owned Big Bear for 13 years, but it’s also a business that involves different members of her family.
"We have four full-time staff, two of whom are my mother and my daughter. We also have one casual and another one part-time employee who just happens to be my other daughter," Hay said. "My kids have pretty much grown up here."
At the beginning of March, Big Bear Custom Cresting moved to 636 Rosser Ave. from 1321 Rosser Ave.
"We outgrew our spot, we were just too cramped," Hay said. "It’s basically an expansion for our business. We have more room to hire and to train people so that we keep up with the customer demand."
Big Bear Custom Cresting focuses on screen printing, embroidery and digitizing on wearable items, such as hoodies, T-shirts, hats and sweatpants, with all of their custom printing done in-house. They also carry a selection of promotional products such as mugs, pens, backpacks and lanyards.
While the move wasn’t far, it has been a very positive one.
"I really like the hustle and bustle of being right downtown," Hay said.
"We love it. We can see outside as we’re working, we feel more active and involved by being more in the downtown area."
For more information on Big Bear Custom Cresting, visit their website, bigbearcustomcresting.com.
» Wanda Kurchaba is a Brandon freelance writer and a communications and marketing specialist. This column on Westman’s business community appears each Saturday. Contact Wanda directly with any story ideas.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 7, 2014