- Vermilion Voice
Left: The earliest wooden Craig's building built in Vermilion in 1905. Photo submitted
Right: From left, Doug and John Stewart at Craig's on January 12, 2018. Photo Angela Mouly
After serving the community for 112 years, Craig’s Department Store closed its doors in Vermilion on December 14.
In business at the same location in Vermilion since 1905, the original Craig’s building was made of wood, after the 1918 fire it was rebuilt in brick. According to Doug Stewart, the groceries and meat department were originally in the basement and compressors to run the coolers were under the sidewalk, menswear and fabrics on the main floor, shoes on the mezzanine, and ladies wear on the third floor.
They even traded furs in the old days. A rock portion of the basement wall of the original wood building remains in the basement. According to John Stewart, the butcher block seen in recent years at the front of the store dated back to 1919, as the meat and grocery departments were in the basement until 1962. Another historical item was the iconic theatre chairs.
Doug noted, “It was kind of neat how generations of people gathered and sat in those chairs.”
John Stewart began working at the family company in 1959, purchasing the hardware store next door the same year, and the Stephens building (western portion of the current building) in the early 1970’s. His son, Doug began with the company in 1987.
Each generation at Craig’s dating back to 1905 has tried to contribute and be a part of many community initiatives. Craig’s has been a long time supporter of Lakeland College, youth sports, and organizations such as 4-H.
John emphasized Craig’s was very fortunate over the years to have had wonderful and long-serving staff. He went on to say that throughout the years, customers came not just from Vermilion, but far and wide. “We are very happy with how the new owners have stepped up and want to carry on. We wish them every success in their future endeavors.”
Doug will miss the staff, customers, and sales representatives; all three groups became friends.
Craig’s Department Store has left many Vermilion area residents with fond childhood memories of the toy department or their earliest shopping experiences. Patrons have commented that their legacy will be missed dearly by the community and remembered for years to come.
Left: The Craig's butcher block dating back to 1919.
Middle: A view of Craig's Department Store in Vermilion, and the sidewalk (underneath of which
are compressors to run the coolers from their early grocery and meat department days).
Right: The rock portion of a basement wall at Craig's Department Store in Vermilion. Photos Angela Mouly