September 03, 2020 2 CommentsIn the beginning...Rob McIntosh is a person (born in 1941) and is still working at Rob McIntosh (mostly every day). Rob was born into a Scottish merchant family. His grandfather and great-aunt (brother and sister) emigrated from Scotland through the US to Ottawa where, in 1906, they began a shop called McIntosh & Watts (sister was married to Mr. Watts) which sold coffee, tea and spices, This shop became very popular but in the late 1920's during the depression needed to diversify so...they brought in cups & saucers to sell with their coffee and tea. Thus began McIntosh & Watts as a china (dinnerware) business. During WWII, Rob's father, Grant, was stationed in England and realized that importing English dinnerware and figurines into Canada was perfect for their business model. McIntosh & Watts became an Ottawa icon and when the first indoor mall opened on St. Laurent Blvd., they had a prime location. Rob, who is a natural merchant, wanted to expand out of Ottawa but his father and the rest of the family were reticent. So, in 1979, with the opening of a regional mall in Cornwall, Ont., Rob struck out on his own. His store was originally named Raisin River China but a crystal company owner convinced Rob that the McIntosh name was important in the retail dinnerware industry so...Rob asked his Dad if he could use the McIntosh name. Mr. McIntosh said "As long as the store doesn't sound like McIntosh & Watts" and so again...Rob (who is extremely shy) was talked into calling his store Rob McIntosh China Inc. Barb McIntosh (Rob's wife) had a perfectly good job teaching at Carleton but agreed to help work (she said for 3 weeks only) doing the books and payroll. Barb got hooked on the excitement and challenge of retail and like Rob, still works mostly every day. The first Rob McIntosh store was able to get a location down a side alley across from a pinball arcade (no experience or history they said). However, several stores didn't make the first few months (the interest rates had risen to 21%) so Rob was able to move his store onto the main mall (lots of help from friends and a great contractor-the move took one day). This was 40 years ago...More to come in #2 history another day.
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