The couches, living room chairs, the rustic coffee table, and fireplace all make a strong impression when walking into Lighthouse Treasures, a new ‘gifts, books and more’ store at 147 Broadway, Tillsonburg.
“These are things to enjoy, to come here and relax, sit in front of the fire and just have peace,” said Linda Stinson, co-owner of Lighthouse Treasures with husband Dan Stinson. “Grab a book that you’re interested in and see what it’s about.”
Many of the books will be familiar to former customers of Gospel Lighthouse, a five-outlet Christian book store that closed in August.
“We purchased most of the (book) stock from the previous store,” said Dan. “We wanted to pretty much carry the same merchandise as they did before, keep the same customer base they had, and we added some older classics, not just spiritual-based books.
“We also wanted to emphasize the gift type items. So a lot of the new stuff we’re just kind of feeling our way on our own, trying different suppliers.”
“It’s focused on the things that are comforts of home,” said Linda, “and so a lot of housewares, home décor.”
“You’ll see clothing items, accessories,” said Dan. “Hats, mitts, scarves, jackets…”
“Blankets, pillows,” said Linda. “Again, when you think of home, what’s the comfort that you love?”
Lighthouse Treasures opened earlier in October, but a formal grand opening will be in early November. Find out more on their Facebook page @lighthousetreaurestillsonburg or lighthousetreasures.ca. A limited number of products can also be purchased through their website, with more coming online over time.
Dan and Linda first discovered Gospel Lighthouse Christian Book Store in August. Tillsonburg was a halfway point to meet a friend from London. After lunch at Kelsey’s, they planned to stop at Anchor Shoppe.
“I said, let’s walk Tillsonburg,” said Linda. “We had gone into Trinkets (Gift Shoppe) and Dan had parked literally right out front of Gospel Lighthouse.”
A 50 per cent off closing sale sign got their attention, and seeing the Gospel Lighthouse sign, they went inside and learned the owners, Murray and Marna Mudford, were retiring.
“We were walking out when Dan said ‘Linda, would you ever consider…?’ I stopped and said ‘Yes. Yes I would.’”
“She knew what I was going to say,” Dan laughed.
“Everything from that point until now has just been completely natural. It just feels like the right thing, the right time. It was like the perfect fit and we’ve never doubted it or reconsidered it. It’s just been so natural ever since.”
The Stinsons actually called the Mudfords in Port Rowan before leaving town and set up a meeting later in the week.
Needing a new name for the business, Linda came up with Lighthouse Treasures… ‘The findings that bring you home.’
“There’s so many meanings. It’s finding yourself, it’s not just finding treasures and items. It’s that whole comfort, that inspiration. What is it that’s important in life? Sharing and being part of a community.”
Linda’s mother was born and raised in Tillsonburg, but married and moved to the Western New York area, retaining local connections with a Turkey Point cottage.
Linda, who grew up in Western New York, married Dan Stinson, from Hamilton, who became a Canada-US dual citizen.
The Stinsons divided their time among Florida in the winter, the cottage in the summer, and their home in New York State.
“We’re only semi-retired these days,” said Dan.
“Because we’re really not,” Linda laughed. “We had always talked about – when we get into retirement – it would be awesome to own a store that was really just focused on inspiration and comfort, that was very inclusive, non-threatening. That they’d walk in and know the place is full of love. A store that is welcoming, and warm and has things that give people comfort.”
They considered properties in Virginia and North Carolina. “A place that is attractive, that people will come to.”
It wouldn’t mean selling their cottage – they always wanted to keep the Canadian connection.
When the COVID storm hit, they were glad to have a safe harbour at Turkey Point.
“We wanted to feel safer, so we came here,” said Dan. “We didn’t know if it was going to be three months, four months. When we crossed the border, it was indefinite… until things settle down.”