• James Parry

Frank Hicks’ Ye Old Curiosité Boutique soon to be a thing of the past

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY Looks like it is the end of an era for Frank Hicks with his rented antiques barn slated for demolition to make way for residential development.

Quoting Canadian songwriter Joni Mitchell, antiquarian and Hudson merchant, Frank Hicks, confirmed this week that his Ye Auld Curiosité Boutique at 448 Main Road in the downtown core will be a thing of the past effective September 30.

Explained Hicks in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal, “They are paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. And my store, an old Victorian coach house that I moved in to about four years ago and which has witnessed a hundred years of Hudson’s history, is being demolished to make way for progress and growth. I have no option. I have to be out by the end of next month.”

Added Irish born and proud Canadian Hicks, “The commercial rents in this beautiful small town with a population of around 5,000 with little to no winter traffic are simply too high to allow a merchant any reasonable profit margin. And so, unless a miracle happens, which I very much doubt, I will not be re-opening any time soon.”

The ‘progress and growth’ Hicks refers to, and as confirmed by Mayor Ed Prévost, is the approved construction of a 12-unit residential building no more than three storeys high with underground parking behind the current retail building fronting on to Main which will be renovated respecting its current architectural style by site owner, Josée Pascoe.

Said Hicks, in the antiques business for 32 years and who moved from N.D.G. to open here about 11 years ago, “Some might say that calling my small store paradise is an exaggeration but it was paradise to me. Every look of wonderment from a child walking through my shop witnessing the memorabilia of days long gone by, every smile on a woman’s or man’s face when a bad day suddenly turned good because of some small bargain they found, every conversation, every kind gesture, and every piece of history preserved and placed into the hands of someone that would protect, respect and cherish it throughout their lives, made this old coach house paradise to me.”

While naturally disappointed, Hicks added that he is ‘torn’ in that - in his opinion - there is no question that Hudson needs densification in order to spread the current tax base. Because if not, he said, eventually the tax burden will break the back of most, if not all, merchants who are renting space in town. And even some of those who own their property.

Explained Hicks, “It’s incredible to think that, on average, rents per square footage in Hudson are higher than in Montreal where businesses can expect to see hundreds if not thousands of potential clients passing by every day. Here, with the town virtually dead in the winter, we have to make our money during the summer months in order to cover the rent 12 months a year.”

That being said, Hicks stressed that Ye Auld Curiosité Boutique was never about getting rich. But rather about community and by that measure, he added, he is very rich indeed.

“It is refreshing, satisfying, and the highest prize of all is to know that my small life has had a positive impact on the lives of others. I would like to thank all my customers for their patronage, friendship, and their tolerance of my politically incorrect but always well-intentioned sense of humour. Thank you for growing older with me. I have more pleasant memories than I could ever record.”

With everything in his shop, including both commercial and non-commercial display cases, for sale at 50 per cent off, it promises to be an emotional few weeks ahead for Hicks and his wife, Marilyn.

“We have two floors to clear out,” he said. “It truly is the end of an era.”

At press time, Your Local Journal learned that a petition to save the barn and have it relocated to another site is a strong possibility in the coming days.

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