Figuring out what to do when the grandkids came over wasn’t all that difficult for Marilyn Manson.
“I decided to buy a store and put them to work,” she smiles.

After 31 years of working for Ontario Parks as a senior clerk at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, Marilyn decided to retire and spend her days as a full-time grandmother.

Marilyn has three daughters, plus two son-in-laws and seven grandchildren, in addition to two great-nieces who are like adopted grandchildren. On any given day you may find one or more of them in the store working alongside Marilyn.

As well, you may find her husband there in the background building furniture, remodeling the store, painting or doing whatever needs to be done.

Family is important for Marilyn who grew up in the hamlet of White.

“No one knows where it is,” she laughs. “It’s actually half-way between Brightside and Calabogie, but there’s no sign. Nothing. Just a small schoolhouse to indicate where it is.”

While she now lives a little closer to Perth, it’s still a long way from city living.
“We live on the Ferguson’s Falls Road,” she explains. “We have meat hens and laying hens, pet pot belly pigs and a meat pig, 12 goats, a dog, a cat and a rabbit that runs free usually alongside the cat and dog.”

Despite the fact that it’s a busy household, Marilyn knew when she left her job at the park that she wanted to have something else to do.

In the back of her mind, she had always dreamt of having her own store and having her kids and grandkids work alongside her.

“I felt if I opened a store it would give everyone a place to help out, a place to be together. They could mind the store and paint and clean up, do odd jobs etc.,” she says.
 “So when i retired I bought my favorite store – Treasure Lane. I loved their inventory and the atmosphere of the store,” explains Marilyn.

When Marilyn took over the store in October 2019 it was located in a small room half-way down the lane that runs between Foster and North streets in Perth.

Eventually, the need for a better location became evident and on July 1, 2020 Marilyn moved the store from its location in the lane to its present location at 62 Gore St. E. In the process she renamed it Treasure Lane by the Tay in reference to its proximity to the iconic Tay River that runs through Perth.

“My husband and grandson finished painting the new location one evening and the next day at 3:00 p.m. we closed the store in the lane and the whole family arrived. We had everything moved in and the new store open at 10:00 a.m. the next day. It was the hottest day of the year,” recalls Marilyn whose family often reminds her of moving on the hottest day of the summer!

While the move allowed Marilyn to expand her inventory, it didn’t shift her focus.
“I try to keep my product as local as possible. My husband makes the furniture. I have a carpenter who makes coat racks for me. I have a lady who does stain glass, another who makes homemade soap, dishcloths, headbands and personalizes glasses and mugs. People love local,” she explains.  

 “I try to stock things that no one else has. I love the Amish-type of items such as the baked enamel trays, bowls and especially lighting. I have a large variety of clocks, paintings and a number of signs, many with funny sayings on them. You have to have a little fun,” she laughs.

While the pandemic has been far from fun, Marilyn has made adjustments along the way to how she does business. She now has a strong social media presence using videos on Instagram and Facebook Live posts to stay in touch with her customer base. It has worked well and Marilyn currently boasts over 8,000 Facebook followers.

“Last Mother’s day I offered free delivery to Carleton Place, Almonte, Smiths Falls, Kingston and even the east end of Ottawa and it was hugely popular,” she points out. “I often still do deliveries in Ottawa and Kingston – it’s always an option if I’m heading that way.”
One of the things Marilyn has most appreciated during the pandemic has been the support of her fellow business owners.
“We have to help each other,” she says. “If I don’t have something then I refer the customer to a different store. I’m constantly sending people to other locations.”

It’s a spirit of collaboration born, no doubt, out of Marilyn’s belief in the importance of family.