Forwell’s bids farewell

After 52 years of service, Forwell Super Variety is closing its doors on March 31.

Joe Forwell opened the store in 1960, a period where convenience stores were virtually unheard of. His main intention was generously servicing the student population of Waterloo and to do so his plan was to have the help of the most beautiful storefront girls.

“He wanted to have the best-looking girls in town in here, and he did,” said Bonnie Forwell, Joe’s daughter and current owner of the store.

“He never, ever wanted to see anybody go hungry,” said Bonnie, explaining that a free loaf of bread would go to anyone who needed food.

Throughout the years, Forwell has continued to uphold its reputation as the go-to place for everything from last minute ping-pong balls to homecoming face paint.

“Like I said, there was no such thing as a convenience store [when Forwell’s opened],” Bonnie said, as she explained her father’s initial idea behind the opening of the store. “Grocery stores were closed nights and weekends, and so were banks.”

Joe not only instituted the idea of late night convenience, but also provided a cheque-cashing service, where students could cash their cheques without having to visit a bank.

“If you wanted to go out on a weekend and you [had] no money, you went to Forwell’s and you cashed your cheque,” Bonnie explained. “You had to be on file, you know, and he did that and it was a really good service.”

Joe’s primary focus was to the students of Waterloo, and he catered to them in every way possible. From daily needs to holiday attire, Forwell’s was, and will be until the end of the month, the place to go when you need a bag of milk or a St. Patrick’s day headpiece.

“I think people just like it because it was around for so long,” said Becky Macdonald, a third-year student at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“It was good for holidays and special events for the school, like homecoming,” added Alana Clancy, also a third-year student at Laurier.

Numerous students have expressed their concern to Bonnie over the closing of Forwell’s, praising the store for its convenience.

After Joe died in 2006, Bonnie took over the business and has worked to preserve her father’s goal with the store.

“We just care, and we try to keep our prices very reasonable … and a good selection of everything,” she said. “As you can see, all the stuff that we have is for the students.”

Bonnie was the first employee at Forwell’s, starting work with her father when she was a little girl. She has managed Forwell’s for the past six years.

“Absolutely the best thing about this store is the staff and the customers and what makes it so different and so unique is it’s so personalized,” she said.
But why is it time for the 52-year-old successful store to close?

“It’s just time for this beautiful store to retire,” a tearful Bonnie said, as she re-counted the many memories shared there.

Although Bonnie expressed her sadness over the end of this chapter in her family’s life, she said, “It’s so hard to let this place go but if we can’t have it, I’m glad that it’s them that are taking it.”

When asked who the property was sold too, Bonnie responded kindly, “It was a private sale to someone local, who cares about the area and the history, so I feel good about this.”

When asked specifically about who the buyer was, Bonnie simply stated that she “really rather not [say]. That’s up to them to … When they are ready, they will let everybody know.”

Madeline Salerno, another student at Laurier, expressed her opinion on the potential buyer. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Laurier bought it,” she said.

Salerno wasn’t alone in the suspicion that WLU may have been the private buyer to purchase Forwell’s. Almost immediately after the sale of the iconic variety store was announced, rumours began to circulate that the university had purchased the property.

However, according to Laurier’s vice president of finance Jim Butler, this is not the case. Butler asserted that WLU was not the private buyer. When asked about the matter by The Cord, Butler was unaware Forwell’s had even been sold.

For now however, Forwell’s remains open until the end of the month and will be having a party to celebrate the store’s departure on March 31. All cliental are welcome.
–With files from Justin Smirlies

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