For a small town it was a big store and Big Store is what it was called by the local residents who shopped there. The brand new Red and White Store in Youbou opened to the public on December 1, 1943 to the delight of housewives, husbands, kids and everyone in between. “It carried absolutely everything,” recalled Verle Leakey who fondly remembers the store that carried just about everything. Right from the start it gained the reputation as one of the most modern merchandising establishments to be found anywhere in Western Canada. Its new modern layout appealed to the customer and staff alike.
Situated near the location of today’s Youbou Fire Hall, the store was one of several new businesses to eventually locate in the new “community center” area. The Big Store carried a complete line of foods available at that time. It featured a butcher shop, which offered a large variety of fish, poultry and meats, a well-stocked produce section of fruits and vegetables, and a separate garden department. The “wearing apparel” section carried many types and styles of clothing, shoes and men’s ties.
The array of general merchandise included hardware, light fixtures, garbage cans, a large selection of suitcases and trunks, baskets, brooms, mops as well as baby furniture and more. It also carried a full range of fabric, sewing supplies, sewing machines, kitchen appliances and giftware.
To top it off, it carried almost everything that would be required for the building and maintenance of a house. The range of merchandise was so broad that folks often joked that they didn’t have to leave Youbou anymore. As far as the customers were concerned, the Big Store carried it all.
Operating as a unit under the Red and White organization the store had a manager and approximately twelve employees and a delivery truck with driver busy delivering orders to the townsfolk. Over the twenty years that the Big Store operated, many people found employment there including teens that were hired during the summer months.
In 1963, the Big Store shut its doors for good. The era of malls and big department stores had arrived.
The last tenant of the former Red and White store building was Karl Neuffer who operated Karlite, a wood working business. Eventually, one buy one, the nearby business closed and the buildings were torn down. Youbou no longer had its beautiful Big Store.