Daniel and Elena Lubimcev are natives of Siberia, met in Toronto
By Pat Payton
The wait was worth it for new Canadian Tire store owners Daniel and Elena Lubimcev.
After waiting several months earlier this year, the Lubimcevs finally got the green light to take over the St. Marys store on Aug. 5. Covid-19 restrictions and complications were the reasons for the delay, Daniel told the Independent in a recent interview.
“The date was pushed back a few times because of Covid,” he explained. “Originally, we were supposed to take over in April, then it got pushed back to June, and then July, and then August.
“It was delayed because of the restrictions at the time. You could only have so many people in the store at one particular time.”
Managed six different stores
Daniel Lubimcev has been with the Canadian Tire Corporation for 20 years, managing six different stores in two provinces.
He managed a C.T. store in London for five years (2010 to 2015). He and his wife then moved to Edmonton in 2015 to “build and operate” the largest Canadian Tire store in the country.
“It’s always been my dream and aspiration to become a dealer and own my own store. For the past 20 years, this has been the path that we’ve been working on to get to where we are today.”
Prior to purchasing the St. Marys store, Lubimcev went through the Canadian Tire training program to someday become a store owner.
“As the stores become available, Canadian Tire decides what dealer goes where,” he says. “We didn’t have a choice, but we couldn’t have asked for a better first store. We’re absolutely thrilled and very happy to be back in southwestern Ontario. We absolutely love the town.”
Familiarity with the area made it very appealing to make the move from Edmonton. “When we lived in London, we drove out here to the Quarry a couple of times, so we knew the area,” he said.
The Lubimcevs actually left Alberta on May 31 and arrived in St. Marys on June 4.
“I was super eager to get into the store, and hearing it was going to be pushed back two weeks, then four weeks . . . it was tough,” he said. “But it gave us time to explore the area, to settle in and to get to know the neighbours and the community. Looking back, I really appreciate that.
“We also had some staffing needs. We knew a couple of people were leaving with the outgoing dealer. We had to prepare for that, and do some ordering in preparation for the Christmas season.”
When the transition day (Aug. 5) finally arrived, the St. Marys staff did a “phenomenal job” getting the store ready.
“Our team here did a really good job preparing for the transition for the outgoing dealer to move on and for me to come in,” Lubimcev said. “The store was well-prepared. It was one of the smoothest transitions you could ask for.”
Elena, who has over six years of working experience at Canadian Tire stores, is also actively involved at the St. Marys store. She works both in the office and on the floor, on cash, and anywhere else she is needed. “She is very versatile,” Daniel says.
Couple met in Toronto
Daniel and Elena Lubimcev are both natives of Siberia, the vast Russian province encompassing most of Northern Asia. They met in Toronto 10 years ago. Daniel was managing a Canadian Tire store at the time, and Elena was attending college. They were married a year later.
“No children yet, but we’re planning for it,” he said with a laugh. “Right now, our dog (Blanca) is our fur baby.”
Blanca is a rescue dog (Great Pyrenees Mixed) they obtained while in Edmonton. “I volunteered at the Humane Society there for a couple of years,” he said. “She came along, and my heart just couldn’t say no.”
Daniel, meanwhile, grew up in southern Siberia, and he says the climate there is much the same as Alberta’s. He also discovered there are berries and Magpies out west, very similar to Siberia where he was raised.
“It’s funny, I lived in Canada for 15 years before moving out to Edmonton,” he said. “There are no magpies in Ontario, but we moved out west and the Magpies were everywhere, just like in Siberia. Siberia is very, very similar to the prairie provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan . . . weather-wise, climate and everything else.”
Gearing up for Christmas rush
Looking ahead, the Lubimcevs are gearing up for the Christmas rush at their store.
“Absolutely,” he says. “We’ve got the inventory; we’re really well-positioned in Christmas decorations and toys.
“In preparation for the Christmas season, we are also opening the automotive service seven days a week to take care of the tire and winter maintenance needs of the customers. We’re offering free alignment checks and we have new equipment for that.”
Lubimcev says the St. Marys store continues to follow strict Covid-19 protocols, like a hands-free sanitizer stand, they sanitize the shopping carts and face masks are mandatory.
This Saturday, Nov. 21, the police toy drive will again be held at the store. “We are also involved with the town, sponsoring a Christmas lights display,” he noted.
Daniel Lubimcev adds that he and Elena were overwhelmed with the warm welcome they received when they moved to St. Marys this summer. “From the neighbours and the community, it was mind-blowing. You just don’t get that in bigger cities.”