Bleeker Audio & Video closing after 56 years
Published Tuesday, April 12, 2016 5:14PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, April 12, 2016 6:21PM EDT
Another long-standing institution in Ottawa has fallen victim to on-line competition. Bleeker Audio and Video is closing its doors after more than half a century in business.
Hans Bleeker is the man behind the name. Bleeker turned 80 three weeks ago; he started Bleeker Audio and Video 56 years ago. He was just a young lad new to Canada then, but not new to hard work.
"I was an electronic technician in the Dutch air force,” Bleeker explains in the showroom of his Clyde Avenue store, “in radio radar technology and once you’re in radar technology, you know how to repair televisions as well.”
So, a part time job repairing TVs turned into a lifelong career running a business.
“It was always my goal to be my own boss,” he says, “to have my own business.”
It is a business that his son Rob took over some 20 years ago. But increased competition on-line has slowly squeezed their bottom line.
“It’s been a tough haul,” says Rob Bleeker, “it’s impossible to make a profit running a bricks and mortar store anymore. You can see in the industry everybody's disappearing.”
Bleeker started out with a small store on Churchill, then Carling Avenue before opening up on Clyde Avenue in 1971 as a standalone store. In the 80's Hans Bleeker went into commercial real estate in addition to retail and the Bleeker mall was born. The family plans to still manage the mall but the store will close in early June. Fifteen employees will lose their jobs and customers like Patricia Roth will lose the one-on-one experience she loves about the store.
“I love the service here,” says Roth, “the knowledge of the sales people and you don't find that elsewhere. I certainly wouldn't buy a TV on the internet; I’m too scared to do that.”
“They always have good quality materials,” says another customer, “who knows what I will do now.”
And that, worries Hans Bleeker, is a sad comment on where businesses like his are going.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
What is going to happen next Monday is the start of a sale. Bleeker plans to close June 1st but with a million dollars’ worth of inventory to sell, that date is fluid.