Gord celebrates six decades with Shoppers Drug Mart
January 10, 2024
Let’s turn the calendar back to 1961. John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister. A dozen eggs were 55 cents. West Side Story was number one at the box office. And Chubby Checker was dominating the charts with “Let’s Twist Again.”
It was also an eventful year for 14-year-old Gord Forbes, who was on the hunt for his first part-time job. He lived at York Mills and Bayview in Toronto, Ont., just a stone’s throw away from a Koffler’s Drug Store (the former name of Shoppers Drug Mart).
“I always enjoyed going in and chatting with the staff,” says Gord, who was “drawn” to the store and quickly decided to apply when he heard there was an opening. He was excited when he was hired as the “pop boy” by Associate-Owner Berry Heberman, making 60 cents an hour. Gord restocked merchandise, swept the floor, took out the garbage and helped with various other tasks.
Now 62 years later, Gord is still keeping busy in the aisles of Shoppers Drug Mart. Over the years, he has held numerous roles, from cashier to Assistant Manager to Front Store Manager. Currently he is a merchandiser, working three days a week at store 1498 in the Parkwoods Centre in Toronto.
“My heart is with the company,” says Gord. “I have a great Front Store Manager, Associate and team. I love the camaraderie and how well we all work together.”
While Gord says he “just fell into” the retail world, he quickly realized he had a strong passion for it. “It’s in my blood,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed the customer interactions. Helping them always puts a smile on my face.” Gord has especially loved the family-oriented atmosphere at Shoppers – one of the main reasons he’s “never had the desire to go anywhere else.”
Throughout his time working at Shoppers, Gord has seen his fair share of changes – from an incredible expansion of the assortment of products offered, to the evolution of Shoppers Drug Mart’s charitable efforts. But the most significant change – and perhaps the most challenging for him personally – has been technology. “We didn’t have any technology when I first started!” says Gord. “Everything is digital now. It has been a huge learning curve, but luckily my team has been there to support me.”
Gord says he’s not only had great team members, but incredible mentors over the years. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing people,” he says.
His current Front Store Manager, Al-karim Haji, in particular has played an important role for Gord over the last 14 years. “He really knows his stuff!” says Gord. “And he’s always so calm and great with customers.”
Al-karim speaks just as highly of Gord. “He is a fantastic employee, team player and a great friend to me personally,” he says. "He sets an incredible example for all his team members with his dedication, work ethic and positivity. He is a fixture at our store, loved by staff and customers. Everyone looks forward to Gord’s presence when they walk into our store.”
Although Gord has long pushed the idea of retirement to the back of his mind, he says he has started to think more seriously about it in recent years. “I don’t have a firm date in mind, but I know the time is coming,” says Gord, who has plans to spend more time with family (including his beloved cat Bucky), biking, cheering on his favourite sports teams (Go Leafs Go!), and volunteering.
But in the meantime, he’s going to keep on keepin’ on, working hard and enjoying his time with co-workers and customers.
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