Where’s our empathy


he temporary closure of Robinson’s General Store came as a pretty shocking blow to Haliburton County last week.

If you live here or cottage here, you likely know about the iconic store; the heart of the little town of Dorset, north of Carnarvon.

Previously owned by the Robinson family for four generations spanning 100 years, the store was only recently sold to new owners, a young couple fairly fresh to Huntsville, in the spring of 2021.

Consisting of 500 full-time residents and many more season residents, Dorset lost its only grocery store, hardware store, and general store for the time being, leaving many up in arms about the situation.

Or should I say, up in caps lock and hateful words.

The abrupt and unexpected notice on the front door next to the wood-carved moose statue and underneath the old-west-esque “Robinson’s General Store” sign is definitely shocking.

It reads, “Store is temporarily closed until further notice.”

It’s inconvenient to those who use it to fill their fridge and to buy tools to fix squeaky doors.

It’s difficult to accept change after being able to go to Robinson’s any day of the week.

Like many others, I have been going to the store since I was a kid, picking out a stuffed animal from their toy selection and hoping to get time to play at the park across the street.

Many got to know the Robinson family well. They played a pivotal role in the small community.

This is all cause to feel upset when word of the new owners having to forcibly close the store hit the streets, sure.

But I don’t think we should be upset at the new owners. And there certainly shouldn’t be threats made out to them over social media.

One of the reasons for the closure listed in Emily Stonehouse’s story Robinson’s General Store closed for now was the rise in interest rates.

Buying a business and taking it over in the middle of a global pandemic would’ve been an incomprehensible undertaking to anyone who hasn’t done it.

I would say that’s most of us. We have never done that. We can’t know what it’s like, and we can’t blame them for being put in a difficult situation.

And this certainly wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for, either.

“We’ve lost everything. We poured every single thing we had into this business,” Mike said in Emily’s article.

Mike, the owner, told the Echo and the Times that he had received countless upsetting threats over social media after the news broke.

Can you imagine losing your business and having to temporarily lay off devoted employees, and receiving threats to you and your family on top of that?

No matter how upset you are, that’s unacceptable behaviour. There’s no way for us to know the full story, so it’s always best to think twice before hitting the comment button.

At the end of the day, this is a local family that had to make a really hard decision. Let’s not forget to put people over material things. 

Let’s not forget to have empathy during situations like these. If it were you in their place, how would you feel if you received threats during a low point?

They didn’t fail us. We are failing them with attacking comments like the ones Mike has received.

Life is hard and unpredictable, and our community’s small. Let’s be there for each other and offer words of support whenever possible.