The Evolution of Murray Clock Craft into Arek's Murray Clocks
Like the hands of a clock, one might say Murray Clock Craft has come full circle into what is known today as Arek's Murray Clocks.
Back in 1969, William Murray started Murray Clock Craft in the basement of his home in the Toronto, Ontario area, and ran things with a small team; his wife Wilma, and his sister-in-law, Rachel (Rae).
With a lot of hard work and determination, the Murrays turned their basement start up into a thriving business that quickly outgrew it's original home. In the early 1970's, they moved out of the basement to the store on McNicoll Avenue in North York that would be the home of Murray Clock Craft for several decades. By this time, Murray Clock Craft was serving everyone from hobbyists to schools and institutions alike for their clock needs.
It was in the Fall of 1978, that I made my appearance at Murray Clock as a young woman who had just sent her only daughter off to kindergarten. Having no background in clocks, the Murrays took a chance on me as a receptionist, and it didn't hurt that I spoke French so I could communicate with the large customer base we had in Quebec. Being very curious and a quick study, I started to learn about clocks as I went along, and before long, my knowledge and personable nature was a winner with everyone from the Murray family to the customers. They grew to love my quirks as a relatively new Canadian, and we all had many a laugh over my mispronunciations of the English language. In turn, I learned a lot from them and truly felt a part of the family. I am sure many of our original customers that are still at it, making clocks, can remember an encounter or two with "Arek" as well.
Over the years, many employees entered and exited through the doors of Murray Clock Craft except for myself, who had found a home I loved working with the close knit Murray family. The Murrays meanwhile had grown their business even more in the 1980's, from their Ontario location to Quebec and Alberta. In the 90's, due to a downturn in the economy, as well as the aging of owners Bill and Wilma, the Murrays very reluctantly decided to sell their beloved company. There were many offers over the years, but they insisted they would never part with their company, until they finally had to do so.
In 1994, Daniel Kesselring, a charming Swiss who had many "The Clock Gallery" stores throughout malls all over Canada, swooped in and convinced the Murrays to take over the business. It was the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one, and the one constant in the business was myself who transitioned into the new ownership. Still titled Murray Clock Craft, Mr. Kesselring kept not only the business name, but also stayed true to the standards of providing quality clock parts as the Murrays had always believed. Along with Daniel's extensive experience in the clock business, he also modernized the business with a new website, as it was right around the time the World Wide Web was becoming a "thing". Can you imagine buying clock parts sight unseen over the internet? I never would have imagined it being a success as we had customers come to the showroom for hours at times and in multiple trips trying to decide which clock kit and parts to choose. Somehow though, people got the hang of online shopping, and you could say it was both good and bad for the business.
Many factors led to the eventual demise of Murray Clock Craft. With the popularity of online shopping, there were less and less customers coming to the showroom, but what really did a number on the clock business was the explosion of smart phones and smart watches onto the scene. The new generation was living a faster paced life with their cell phone to glance at for time, as well a smartphone on their wrists as well. It was obvious the young generation was not interested in the heirlooms built by their parents and grandparents and one by one the clock companies supplying parts started going out of business. Around 2010, the store was not sustainable any longer so we downsized to a much smaller place on Nashdene Road in Scarborough where we lasted about a year before coming full circle to getting rid of the store and resorting to taking things home based once again. It's funny that such leaps and bounds in technological advancements actually put the company right where it started again.
Sadly, in the summer of 2012, we unexpectedly lost Mr. Kesslering and as there were no family members able to take over at the time, the business was going to fade away into the night. I suddenly found myself facing the possibility of losing the one thing I had identified with all my adult life. I had grown to love this business, and the interactions with customers, and couldn't imagine myself sitting around the house doing nothing. Although I was at an age where I could have retired, I loved the business too much to give up on it, and so, I decided, with the blessing of the Kesselring family, that I would continue the business as long as I could. I am sure this would have made Daniel happy.
The only thing I regret is that due to legalities, I could not continue with the same company name, but I decided that I could still pay homage to the legacy of this company by combining two constants; my name, as by this time I had been there for almost 35 years, and the Murray name since they were the ones who started the whole thing.
And so, in January of 2013, with the same daughter that I had sent to school all those years ago, and that used to work at Murray Clock Craft in the summers when she was a teenager, now working by my side, Arek's Murray Clocks was officially born. I have never been a computer savvy person so my daughter takes care of all the behind the scenes work like designing this great new website we have moved to, while I get to continue imparting my knowledge and doing what I love the most, helping customers choose the best options for their projects.
Although the majority of clock companies, including some major suppliers have since bowed out of this quickly shrinking niche industry, I am proud, that for the last 8 years, I have been able to continue supplying those that still love and appreciate clocks, with quality components from Germany and North America.
The quality of the product and integrity of customer service is something I am sure many customers can attest to that have dealt with me in my time running this company. I believe this kind of business is still alive because of the heart behind the products. Our customers are making heirlooms that they will pass down to beloved family; children and grandchildren that will remember their parents and grandparents long after they are gone, and hopefully will keep passing those clocks down through coming generations. This sentiment is what drives me, and I can promise that I always have, and always will give my full attention to every customer regardless of how much they spend. What matters most is that everyone who deals with me ends up happy, with a clock they will treasure and pass down for generations.
As a final thought, I think our slogan says it all:
~ The Gift of Time Will Be Cherished Today, Tomorrow, and Forever! ~