Editor’s note: This week we’re running our favourite people features of 2021, a reminder that even in difficult years good things happen. This one first appeared September 16.
Owner Mary Anne Peloza jokes that the Cheeky Monkey record store is closing on a high note.
She enjoys her pun, but turns serious when discussing how she and husband Roland will permanently lock the doors to their beloved shop on Sept. 20.
“I want to stress how grateful we are to our customers,” said Peloza, who for 22 years tended the front counter and was never too busy to warmly greet patrons or hunt for specific albums.
The decision to close had nothing to do with the pandemic, she said.
“Covid-19 has not been a great time for us, but we never went backwards.”
Instead, the couple is choosing to retire as their 65th birthdays loom and they crave some time to themselves.
“Being in business is extremely rewarding but it ties you down, working six or seven days a week,” Peloza said. “It’s just time for us to join the retired folk and start a new chapter.”
Eighteen months after putting the building up for sale the couple accepted an offer from Nusens Niche Contracting and a countdown began to close the record-focused music store and cultural hub.
Peloza isn’t certain what the Toronto-based firm intends to do with the 6,400-square-foot building, but suspects it will be gutted and redeveloped.
“They didn’t even come in before they made an offer,” she said. “They just looked at the outside and liked how well it is built.”
Roland Peloza has been sorting through a mountain of paperwork in the back office while sales thin out the inventory. But they’re also having fun.
When the CEO of the International Symphony Orchestra suggested a unique send-off, the Pelozas were happy to oblige.
All this month, ISO members are being videotaped as they go on $200 shopping sprees at the Cheeky Monkey, explaining their picks and divulging their guilty pleasures.
The first edition of “Monkey Business” is being posted on YouTube this week and features second violinist Ethnee Roodt.
“Don’t tell any teenagers I’m listening to Billie Eilish,” says Roodt as she picks up the singer-songwriter’s 2019 debut album. “And I adore James Blunt. I love his accent. I love his look and his hit song ‘You’re Beautiful.’ He’s beautiful too,” she says with a laugh.
The ISO’s Anthony Wing said the idea came from another YouTube series called “What’s In My Bag?” which features rock stars and songwriters shopping at their favourite record store.
“Monkey Business is a way for the public to get to meet our musicians at the ISO and get to know more about them aside from what you see on stage,” Wing said. “It’s also a way for us to honour the Cheeky Monkey as they close and sell out their inventory.”
Another episode features Caleb Courtney, a local high school teacher who plays French horn with the symphony.
“Caleb chose really eclectic music and gets into some bizarre stuff,” Wing said.
In all, 15 ISO musicians each spend $200 provided by the symphony.
“The YouTube series is a treat for our musicians and a way to pay tribute to Mary Anne and Roland,” said Wing.
“We’re all really going to miss them.”