The art of building an empire as a family

In 2014, Benoît Doyon was on the verge of retirement Burn out and had only one wish: to sell his business. Even for cheap. L’Imaginaire, the craft store he opened in 1986, no longer pleased him. He offered his sons to buy it back. “Never in 100 years! they had answered.

When the sons left for other adventures, they found that the grass wasn’t greener at the neighbor’s and in 2016 made a big request to the parents to buy back the imaginary. Since then, they have gradually acquired shares and her father is driven by a second wind that favors expansion.

“The joy I have today working with my two children! I’m telling you about it because there’s such a long distance between now and 2014… It’s like showing your kids your spaghetti sauce recipe! I have the chance to see them grow, progress, get better, it’s a great privilege! smiles Benoît Doyon.

attraction

He and his family have just inaugurated the ninth expansion of the Laurier Québec store, covering 28,000 square meters. Over the years, universes have been added to early collectible tokens and coins: hockey cards, books, board games, and more. Then, since 2016, the imaginary has made itself small elsewhere in Quebec, in Lévis, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Saint-Bruno. In the autumn, the store will have its banner in the Carrefour Laval, recognized as the best shopping center in the province.

“I never thought I could be there because the rents are high, but now the imaginary has enough appeal to give me conditions that make our visit possible. In the 1990’s I was considered a small convenience store in Quebec! remembers Mr. Doyon.

The man who dreamed of a humorous career has a thousand anecdotes to tell.

He was the tanner on duty at school and played in the varsity improv league without ever going to college! There he developed his entrepreneurial skills, brought the league to television and gained sponsorship.

In his shop he learned that the habit does not make the monk. One day a gentleman in sweatpants that weren’t very clean brought up a bill that was way too high. Discreetly, the dealer called the lending company to verify that it was a thief. He was told that the customer was one of the most influential men in the United States! It has become a regular and best customer of the imaginary.

Expansion projects outside of Quebec

At 59, Benoît Doyon plans to expand outside of Quebec with the goal of creating a popular brand and a place where the whole family can find something interesting.

In the late 1990s, the Internet seemed like a threat.

On the contrary, it has given consumers the assurance that they will find what they are looking for at l’Imaginaire. So fear has stayed behind, and if today the labor shortage prevents other entrepreneurs from sleeping, the imaginary has no problem with recruiting: enthusiasts of the universes presented dream of working there.

After all, Benoît Doyon is glad he never became a comedian, because he could hardly have had such a big footprint. In the trade he has built up a hobby empire that cannot be found anywhere else on this continent; his suppliers often remind him of this.

Imaginary

  • Founding year: 1986
  • Founder: Benoit Doyon
  • place of the headquarters : Quebec
  • Field of activity : hobbies
  • number of employees: 230

PROFILE OF BENOIT DOYON

  • Work : co-owner
  • Age : 59 years old
  • Education: secondary school 5

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