The owner of Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and co-owner of Home Hardware Building Centre in Cranbrook is a bit of a risk-taker
In 1998, Dawn Torgerson and her husband, Martin, quit their jobs, sold their home in Langley and moved across B.C. to start what is now Home Hardware Building Centre in Cranbrook. Sixteen years later, she took another leap of faith and purchased Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods. Conducting a seamless transition from the previous owner, Dawn has carried on the store’s reputation of warmth, experience and selection.
In a recent interview, Kootenay Business learned more about Dawn’s business values and her life away from work.
What is the best compliment your business has been given?
Well, that is actually very interesting. An older lady came in at the end of the day and she was standing at the till, buying something, and then she stopped and said, “I really came in because I wanted to thank you for having a place that is comfortable and inviting.” She thanked me for having a store that was filled with warmth and humour and for the staff who gave her exemplary customer service. And she thanked us for being here for the community. I was blown away. She made me cry because I was so dumbfounded. She was delightful. She had this little glow on her face and I just thought that was an amazing thing to say.
What is the main thing you think you are doing right?
I think first of all, the main thing I did right was to purchase a business from a woman I respected—Denise Pallesen. Since we bought the business, I marvel every day at the work she did to create the store and just how she worked it around herself. Her thought pattern is very much like mine so it made sense to me how she ran it. I think the other thing is I respect and encourage my staff. The staff is the biggest asset of my business. Each employee has a whole set of unique talent and gifts they bring to the table, and we all listen to and care for what people want, and we try the best we can to give them everything they need.
What is the best piece of advice someone gave you?
Oh, I probably have a few of those. To stay true to my own convictions is one. To be kind. To be honest. To try your best. To try not to be hard on yourself but listen to yourself. Never be afraid to ask questions. And follow your own gut instincts.
What do you do for fun in your downtime?
Well, there’s not that much downtime between the two businesses and my family. We’re a very close knit family so my children and my extended family are extremely important to me. However, I can completely lose myself watching and photographing wildlife. I’m an amateur wildlife photographer, and I’ve had a few photos published in the Cranbrook Visitor’s Guide. I also write. I’ve written a series of children’s books and stories, as well as a couple of articles. Also, something my husband and I are trying to do because we work way too much is travel a little bit so we can reload.
When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I was a figure skater. I was very much into figure skating at the time . . . and when I was a little bit older, it was a photojournalist.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“In order to fly, you need to let go of the branch.” A family member told me that and I thought it was fitting for what I was doing at the time.
Is there a book you’d recommend?
I think one of my favourite books is The Book of Negroes and it’s by a Canadian writer. It follows the life of a woman and she starts out in Africa. She writes down all the people’s names, where they come from and what happened to them. It follows her life and it was extremely interesting.