Tools-only thrift shop to open in Cloverdale as Shell Busey project with Surrey Hospice Society

Shell Busey's Tool Box a dream come true for the former home-improvement broadcaster

SURREY — Shell Busey might have a fix for Surrey Hospice Society‘s fundraising goals.

The former home-improvement broadcaster is putting his name on a thrift store for tools in Cloverdale’s town centre.

Shell Busey’s Tool Box is a social-enterprise business that will raise money for the hospice society.

The shop – to be located at 5625 176th Street, a couple doors down from the Hawthorne restaurant/bar – will sell “all kinds of tools, everything from carpentry to automotive, garden implements – anything that could be considered a tool,” according to Rebecca Smith, executive director of the hospice society.

Busey, who lives in Cloverdale, said the store is something he’s wanted to open for a long time, “but didn’t want to do on my own, so this is a good fit. I’m happy to help make it happen.”

To help get the store up and running, a “Shell Busey Birthday Roast & Toast” is planned at a Surrey banquet hall in late November.

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Smith and Busey, both on the board with Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, constructed a plan to open the store during a recent conversation.

“Shell told me he had an event years ago in the parking lot of his business selling donated tools for, I think, the CKNW Orphans Fund, and he was just overwhelmed by the support and response,” Smith recalled. “So for a long time he’s had the idea of opening a tool store for the benefit of a not-for-profit, so he’s been playing with that.

“We love the idea,” she added, “and have hit the ground running with it, and we should be opening in November, around the time of the roast.”

Smith said some of the society’s fundraising efforts “had gone a little bit sideways this year, in terms of time frame and expectations,” so new ideas were sought.

“In conversation, Shell mentioned he was coming up on his 75th birthday, and I thought, ‘What a wonderful time to celebrate,’ not only because he’s been so giving and so supportive of us, he’s so well known, he’s such a character, and it will be an opportunity to have people let him know, while he’s still here and enjoys it, and I think (the roast) will be a really good time.”

Busey was the emcee during the society’s 30th-anniversary gala last fall, Smith noted.

His roots in the home-improvement world date back to his youth in Owen Sound, Ontario. At 18, he got a job at the local Beaver Lumber outlet and never looked back, Busey told the Now in a 2011 interview.

By the mid-1970s, he’d moved his family to B.C. and operated several building-supply and hardware stores in the Surrey/North Delta area. In 1983, programmers with the old CJOR radio station called on Windsor Plywood to bring forward a voice for a new home-improvement show, and Busey was the logical choice to take a seat at the microphone. In later years, he was a voice on CKNW, AM650 and other radio stations until his retirement in 2012.

Today, Busey remains very much involved in the home-improvement business.

“I’m going to Cloverdale Paint right now to look at paint colours for the store,” he said Monday. “My work never stops.”

On Nov. 25, the “Roast & Toast” will be held at Mirage Banquet Hall on 64th Avenue. Event tickets are $89 if sold before Oct. 31, and $99 after that date, via surreyhospice.com/shell-busey.

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In partnership with Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society, Surrey Hospice Society runs a thrift shop in Newton, at 7138 King George Blvd., but Shell Busey’s Tool Box will be something different.

“This is a unique opportunity, with just tools, and the response has just been amazing,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of people who are downsizing, or have lost somebody who had tools and they’re no longer needed, businesses who have last year’s tools, what have you, and want to donate. There are a variety of different opportunities that we’ve found for merchandise.

“We’ve also had tremendous support with regard to volunteers (for the store) and from people who are looking for places to get tools because frankly, other than a pawn shop, there’s really just big-box or mainstream retail (stores) that are selling these things, and they can be quite pricey,” Smith added.

“And considering that you may not need a tool for long-term (use), perhaps only a little bit of time with it, this is something. There’s young people starting out who a renovating homes, things like that, who may need to call on us when the realize they need something for those jobs. For them, it can be quite prohibitive to go out and buy everything at once.”

The store is currently being renovated – with Busey’s help, of course – and readied for opening.

“I have a target date of opening just around the time of the roast, probably a soft opening that week,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of getting all our permits and jumping through the hoops of city hall. We’re all very excited about it.”

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