NAVAN, ONT. —
A family-run corner store, in a small town southeast of the capital, is changing ownership after more than a century of providing groceries and goodwill to area residents.
At the heart of any village, is its community and in the town of Navan, Ont., J.T. Bradley’s convenience store has been a generational hub, where residents meet and get the talk-of-the-town.
Word travels fast, especially when it is about John Bradley, and his corner store.
“It started back in 1898, my great-grandfather John Thomas, who I’m named after,” says Bradley. “I used to work here as a kid when I was 14 years old and the opportunity came along for me to get back involved in the business in 1994.”
For nearly three decades, Bradley has been at the helm of the local grocer. In that time, he’s been heavily involved in building new community endeavours, while keeping the rich-past of the family’s traditions alive, like the Bradley Cup. It’s an annual hockey tournament between area towns, dating back to the early 1900s.
Inside the store, its history hangs on the walls; in pictures, newspaper clippings and photos of regular customers who have since past. In 1948, the store burned to the ground in a fire, and was rebuilt the next year.
The family has received a key to the city of Ottawa for their community fundraising efforts. In 1998, Bradley organized a street dance party to celebrate the store’s 100th anniversary, but it quickly became a fundraiser, raising thousands of dollars to support the local plowing match.
Bradley provided sponsorships for sports teams, created recycling programs and was integral to bringing in the curling club.
Wyatt McWilliams says when he began Food-Aid Day in support of local farmers, his friend Bradley was there every step of the way, helping to raise money through his store.
“That’s what J.T. is known for. He’s a community man, a family man and you ask him for a hand and he’s right there,” says McWilliams.
Locals call Bradley’s store the epicentre of Navan; he offered teens their first job and a place to grab a treat after school.
However, for Bradley, it is time to turn the page. On Monday, the store changed ownership.
“Whether it’s an ice storm, whether it’s COVID or whether it’s just good times, the store is important but you always got to think about what you’re going to do down the road,” says Bradley. “The name is not changing, the staff is still staying … the store is not going anywhere so we feel really good about the change.”
Across the town, the news spread quickly, and residents were fast to respond. Offering their support for the family that gave so much back.
“The community has been very, very supportive to the store,” says Bradley. “We’ve given back but we’ve got a lot more back from the community then we’ve given so we are very thankful from the Bradley’s to Navan.”