White Rock’s longest-serving business has left the city.
White Rock Travel, which is also one of the province’s longest-serving travel agencies, moved in November after operating out of White Rock for 66 years.
The business, then owned by Mark Gelfond, opened shop in 1952 on Marine Drive before moving to Johnston Road.
“It was only the third business on Johnston Road at that time,” current owner Ginny Harrison told Peace Arch News recently, adding that the travel agency was founded before White Rock was incorporated as a city in 1957.
Harrison’s parents, Mim and Graham Harrison, bought it in 1966. She started working there, as a child, in 1978.
Harrison and her friend Roberta Elchuk bought the business from Harrison’s parents in the ’80s. Elchuk retired in 2000.
The business recently relocated to South Surrey’s Windsor Square, located at 126-1956 152 St.
“The only reason we moved, really, is because of convenience, because of the rebuild going on in the uptown,” Harrison said. “I know it’s going to be several years before it’s all done and it’s hard to ask our clients to keep driving through construction zones to reach us.”
Harrison, who said the business has a cherished connection with White Rock, added that she doesn’t want to be portrayed as thumbing her nose at the city.
“That’s my issue, it’s not anything about that,” Harrison said. “I fully support the transition. I just realized that if it’s all going to happen at once, it’s not a great place to be.”
Another reason for the move, Harrison added, was that she didn’t want to be in the position of scrambling to find a new place if her White Rock landlord decided to sell and rebuild.
“I was totally loyal to White Rock for years and years. Even when Semiahmoo Mall was built and open, we didn’t move. We really wanted to keep supporting White Rock, but it got to the point where I could see the future being a gong show for too long.”
Harrison, who added that the revitalization of White Rock was “totally long overdue,” said her new location has attracted new clients.
“It’s fabulous. Love the space, love the landlords. Our clients are saying it’s way easier to get in and out of, and the parking is way better. That was the objective.”
In 2014, the business was recognized by the City of White Rock, along with others operating 25 years or more in the city.
At the time, then-White Rock mayor Wayne Baldwin described White Rock Travel as “the great-granddaddy of them all.”