The southwest Alberta town of Fort Macleod is going through a transition: over the last seven weeks, seven businesses have opened, and many of them are owned or managed by people under the age of 25.
“A lot of the time in the small towns it’s the older demographic are still hanging on to the shops, and then they’re retiring and the shops are just closing down,” said Fort Macleod economic development manager Virginia Wishart. “But here we’ve got a fresh start in Fort Macleod. It’s awesome.”
One of the people leading the youth movement of the downtown core, is Josh Beusekom. The 23-year-old is the co-owner and manager of TRU Hardware, a store he opened two years ago, with his dad and brother.
“We were looking at options and we decided that the hardware store kind of fit what we were looking for and we decided to go with that,” said Beusekom.
One of the first tasks was figuring out who would manage the store. And despite a lack of expertise, Josh was the man.
“It wasn’t planned at all really,” said Beusekom. “I’m quite impractical myself, so it was ironic that I was the one who decided to jump in with both feet and get this thing going.”
Under Beusekom’s management, the store flourished. So much so, that two weeks ago, he received the Young Retailer of the Year Award at the 2015 Outstanding Retailer Awards.
“Coming back and just seeing the support of people congratulating you, it’s like you must be doing something right,” said Beusekom. “So it is definitely very humbling.”
For those that work with Beusekom, the fact their boss is getting recognition is far from shocking.
“Somehow it didn’t surprise me,” said TRU Hardware employee Hide Burggrauf. “Because he is here like twelve hours a day, six days a week, and working really hard to make it all work.”
But Beusekom’s role in the community spans far beyond the walls of his business. He’s the vice president of the Chamber of Commerce and is always quick to lend a hand.
“He’s just out there all the time, working to get events going on the street.”
His work in the community isn’t going unnoticed.
“He’s been part of the revitalization of main street and the energy that he has is always positive, always helpful,” said Fort Macleod resident Tim Ranson. “Anything he can do to help his local community, he’s front of the line for that.”