THE LONDON FREE PRESS
Thursday, November 16, 2000
Auction finally closes doors on London’s oldest retail bakery
By Shelley Lawson
Free Press Business Reporter
London’s oldest retail bakery is gone.
A few former employees were among about 40 registered bidders who bought the equipment and chattels of Chapman’s Bakery on Dundas Street yesterday.
“He was such a nice man, I think I’d like to have some little keepsake,” former employee Dianne Munroe said of the late John Chapman, who operated his landmark bakery business in Old East London for more than 40 years.
Chapman died in June at the age of 78.
Andrea Purvis, a culinary management student at Fanshawe College who worked seven months at Chapman’s until it closed it doors in July, bought some of the cake decorations and decorating tools for the day when she might have her own bakery or catering business.
“It was so sad,” she said of Chapman’s death and the store’s closure.
Laura Troyer, a young Amish woman from near St. Marys, bought some of the display cases at Chapman’s for the start of what could be a new landmark bakery she plans to open near her home.
“I had hoped to be open before Christmas, but now it looks like probably not until next year,” said Troyer, who sells her baked gods at the St. Marys market during the summer.
Most buyers at the auction were food equipment dealers.
“I’m trying to make a buck, like everyone else,” said London Food Equipment owner Tony Mulder.
“They all expect to get something for nothing, but you can’t,” he said, loud enough for his colleagues at the auction to hear him. “If it’s good, I buy it. If it’s not, I don’t buy it.”
“Here’s where you got your number to buy Christmas kringle,” sang auctioneer John McKenzie, referring to the stand that dispensed plastic-numbered cards to ensure customers were served in order when the bakery was busy.
Customers would line up down the block to buy Chapman’s Danish kringle, an almond-raisin pastry that became a Christmas tradition for many Londoners.
Despite drawing on the kringle memories of bidders, the number dispenser sold for only $2.
During the auction, many pedestrians stopped to peer in the windows of the bakery.
“We’ve heard lots of folks say what a shame it was” the bakery is closed, said Jody Trevail, owner of Mystic Bookshop across the street.
“We’ve been here 10 years and we’ve seen many retailers come and go. But Chapman’s was an important landmark. It really was London’s oldest retail bakery.”
Trevail and her staff got to know Chapman, his employees and customers.
“We will miss them all.”