The area’s last connection to what was once the thriving Terrace Co-op Association retail complex on Greig Ave. has ended with the late June closure of the Cookie Jar Bakery on Lazelle Ave.
When a declining economy and a change in consumer habits forced the closure of the Co-op in 1998, the two people who ran its bakery, John Wiebenga and Markus Klein, moved the equipment to Lazelle Ave. to carry on the tradition of providing fresh-baked breads, cookies and cakes.
“It was really pressure from our customers that got us to [open the Cookie Jar Bakery],” explained Wiebanga who ran the Co-op bakery for 24 years.
“When we opened in the fall [of 1998] after the Co-op closed in the spring, people lined up outside down the street.”
After Wiebenga retired more than a decade ago, Klein continued baking the famous Co-op recipes (often starting at 2 a.m. and continuing on well into the next business day) which he sold to the businesses in Terrace and Kitimat and to customers.
Lately, Klein felt like he was running out of steam and he decided that it was time to retire. He tried to sell the business last year, and he says that some people were interested, “but once they saw how much work was involved, they didn’t want to take it on.”
A steady stream of customers visited the bakery on June 27, its last day, to purchase goods.
The space that the Cookie Jar used to own has now been sold to another business and most of the bakery’s equipment has been donated to Northwest Community College to help expand its culinary arts program.
“It’s nostalgic for me because a lot of [the equipment] is from the Co-op, that’s why it was nice to see the college take them. For me it’s part of Terrace’s history – it’s the same stuff that was there when I started at the Co-op 35 years ago,” Klein said.
Klein is looking forward to not being constantly tied down at the business, but it is a bittersweet moment, he said.
The Co-op property is now owned by the City of Terrace which has a tentative deal to sell a large portion of the land, pending receiving a clean environmental bill of health, to a Calgary hotel developer.
The large retail complex at the location which contained a grocery store, hardware store, clothing store, gas bar, cafeteria and other services was demolished in 2011.