For years, Chris Coneybeare had no idea what he would do with his downtown Minden butcher shop when he retired.

While his kids, Lily and Mckay, had spent some time working at the store, located at 10 Milne St., during their childhood, the pair left the community after graduating high school. Lily attended Queen’s University, where she studied chemistry, while Mckay moved to Ottawa to pursue a business degree.

“There really was no succession plan. I never wanted to put any pressure on them to take over the family business,” Chris said in a recent interview.

He noted Coneybeare’s has existed, in some form, since the early 1940s. Originally a butcher shop, opened by the Easton family and Bill Coneybeare – Chris’ grandfather, it transitioned into a grocery store later that decade before Chris’ dad, Al, got involved in the 1960s. He transitioned the space back to a butcher’s operation, fronting Main Street. After having the idea to open a travel agency, he repurposed the building to house his new endeavour at the front, and butcher shop at the back.

Chris took the business over in the 80s and has been running it ever since.

Since the onset of the pandemic though, he’s had a little help. After completing their post-secondary studies, Lily and Mckay have returned home. Over the past 12 months, they’ve each taken a more active role in managing the business, leading to Chris’ decision earlier this year to partially retire.

“We both kind of went out into the world and saw what was out there, but I think that helped us realize what we had here,” Mckay said. “When you’ve got a business like this that has been in the family for so long, you want to keep it that way.”

Lily added, “I didn’t realize how much I missed this place until I left. It’s home.”

The two are now working full-time at Coneybeare’s. They oversaw extensive renovations of the retail space in March, giving it a fresh, new look.

“The floors needed to be redone, so we leveled them out and installed some new ceramic tile. We gave everything a new paint job, installed new trim. We felt it was important to spruce things up a little bit. There probably hadn’t been any renovations done for about 30 years,” Lily said.

Chris admitted it has been “pretty cool” watching his kids take over the business.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive from customers too, Mckay noted.

“We’ve had people coming in who say they remember when we were just little kids, and how nice it is that we’re carrying on the Coneybeare legacy,” he said. “I’m in this now for the long haul. You develop relationships with people so quickly and I really feel part of this community.”