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Established business gets new lease on life

AMHERST – Liz Hickey knows her father and her husband would be smiling if they could see what has become of their business.

Liz Hickey and Chris Maltby have brough new life to a longtime Amherst business. They are operating Holmes and Maltby Cleaners and Maltby’s Once Again Sports on South Albion Street. The business will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday.

Holmes and Maltby Cleaners and Maltby’s Once Again Sports will officially open on Saturday, but it will really be the continuation of a business that has served Amherst and Cumberland County for more than five decades.

“I know dad and Bill would be thrilled if they could see what we have now,” she said. “I know they’d both be smiling.”

Hickey remembers growing up around the cleaning business and when her friends were all going to the Venus downtown to have fun she was trudging from school to go to work at her father’s dry cleaning business.

After trying to establish a dry cleaning business in Stellarton in early 1962, Hickey’s father, Gordon Holmes, came back to Amherst later in the year and set up Holmes Dry Cleaning in an old cow barn on what is South Albion Street today.

The business slowly grew until the early 1970s when the former Cumberland Mall opened and Zellers attracted more people to what was a growing business area.

“When we started here there were only a couple of streetlights. There wasn’t much out here,” she said.

She became more involved in the business when her father fell ill in 1983 and her mother, who worked both at the dry cleaning business and as a nurse, died in 1985. After her father died in 1991, she took it over and renamed it Home Again Cleaners – after spending so many years of her youth working there.

“It was almost like home so it made sense to call it Home Again,” she said.

The business expanded to include sporting goods in the mid-1990s when she joined forces with Bill Hickey.

“Bill literally went to yard sales around Amherst to buy used sports equipment he could sell in the store and then he brought in new stock as well,” she said.

When Hickey died in April 2011, Hickey gave the sports gear to rinks and schools across the county as well as the CCMHA.

She kept the business running after Bill died and was approached by Stephen Maltby last December asking if she was interested in selling.

“I really thought he was kidding at first,” she said. “He came back in January and we talked some more. I thought he was going to tear it down and put something else up, but he came to me and asked if I would keep working for him. It’s been very good. I’m only 63 and I still feel good. I have a few good years left in me.”

The cleaning business has changed a lot over the years and things aren’t as busy as they once were, but Hickey said it’s the only dry cleaning business in Cumberland County and there’s enough work to keep her, Wendy Purdy and Odette Martin busy.

As for Once Again Sports, it has been reborn and is run by Maltby’s son, Chris, who is joined by Jordan Hunter and Frank West. While it offers used sports equipment, it also sells plenty of brand name apparel and equipment for hockey, biking, hunting, fishing and other sports. It also has equestrian equipment.

It’s also a retailer for Devinci bikes out of Quebec, offers the Fresh Gear system that cleans and disinfects sports equipment such as hockey gear. For hockey gear, it sells Bauer, Reebok and other top names and will soon be a retailer of Warrior.

Once Again Sports also has Sugoi running and biking apparel.

Once Again Sports also offers Maximum Edge skate sharpening and Maltby received training from the company’s founder.

“It’s used by all 30 teams in the NHL as well as the CHL,” Maltby said. “With the system there are always straight edges and it’s much easier to skate on skates that have been sharpened with the Maximum Edge system.”

The official opening on Saturday will see a raffle for a Warrior hockey stick while members of the CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers will be on hand selling vouchers for that night’s MHL game against Miramichi. The vouchers cost $5 each.

All stock will be 15 per cent off as well.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


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