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Sangster’s Health Centres put married franchisees on a healthy road to success

sangsters3By Linda and Dave Sexsmith
We had never thought about getting into the health food business, but we needed a change. We did some research about the industry and decided to take the opportunity to become franchisees for Sangster’s Health Centres in Calgary.

I was born and raised in Saskatoon with my two sisters and my brother. My mom worked for a health clinic as long as I can remember and my dad was a train dispatcher for Canadian National Railway (CNR) until he retired at age 58.

Growing up, I attended Catholic schools. Two classes I really enjoyed were home economics and social studies. In high school, we wore uniforms comprised of a skirt and sweater in our school colours of green and white. One thing we found funny was when we went to school in the morning, the teachers would make us kneel down and check our skirt lengths with a ruler to see if they were touching the floor. If a skirt was hiked up too high, it had to come down. Once the teachers left the room, we would roll up the waistband to hike our skirts back up.

It was a nice idea to have a uniform because then we were not competing with other for clothing and style. It was one less source of stress.

When I was young, I took dance classes, as well as swimming and gymnastics. They were things I was interested in, but not things I excelled in. As I got older, I volunteered for our community association and I became head of the Block Watch for our neighbourhood.

I graduated from high school in 1969 and decided to work in my aunt’s restaurant for the summer. It did not take long to find out it was not for me, so I decided to try the retail business. I walked into The Bay and went straight up to the sixth floor, into the personnel office, and said I was looking for a job. They hired me right away! At first I thought it was going to be a temporary thing, but then I met Dave and got married and stayed at The Bay in Saskatoon for three years.

sangsters1Dave and I stayed in Saskatoon until I was 22. In 1972, I transferred stores when we moved to Calgary. I worked there either full-time or part-time for 25 years until July 1995. Then we opened our Sangster’s franchise on September 15, 1995.

I was born in Saskatoon, too, and grew up with two older sisters. My father was born in 1908 in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, and my mother was born in 1910 in Hearn, Saskatchewan. My dad was the director of a night school in Saskatoon, and my mother was a teacher in rural Saskatchewan until they got married and she became a stay-at-home mom in the 1930s.

Throughout high school, I was on the badminton team and played intermural basketball. I did not play any popular sports, such as hockey or football, but I did start playing golf and managed to get in a couple of rounds each week during the summers when I went to university. I have also been interested in photography since I was in grade school. Over the years, I have practiced to get better, but I am still a long way from being a great photographer!

In 1966, I graduated from high school and then worked for a year in the CNR warehouse, moving freight around, sorting it out and filling trailers. I enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan in 1968 and earned a commerce degree through their four-year program.

After I graduated from university, it took a while to find a job. I finally got one in the forestry industry in Calgary, which is why we moved. I did that for a few months and then ended up getting a job as a junior accountant for an oil and gas pipeline company.

From 1972 to 1993 I worked for four companies in the petroleum industry as an economist and policy analyst. In 1993, my job ended because the organization I was working for merged with another one, so I was laid off. After that, I tried consulting for a couple of years.

In the spring of 1995, our son came home and told us he had heard Sangster’s was opening a store in Calgary and he suggested we look at it. My first thought was I did not know anything about health food. I had never even been in a health food store! The moment I said that, I knew it was not a good way to look at things, so we started doing research and eventually decided we should follow up on the Sangster’s opportunity. That is how we ended up opening the store.

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