When Theresa Tate arrived in Toronto more than 50 years ago, she had only $30 to her name and was unable to read or write.
Needless to say, her start in the city was rough. In fact, Tate was actually one of the first women in Toronto to receive a license to scavenge through other people’s trash–something she had to do just to make ends meet. Eventually, she started working with the city, and, years later, Tate decided to sell plants and produce from her family’s farm on picnic tables in front of her home.
Without any business experience at all, Tate went on to open her very own store. Today, the 84 year old owns not only the East End Garden Centre on Queen St., but two other properties next door as well. And there’s not a single computer in sight at her business–every transaction is recorded by hand.
“This keeps me in shape and keeps me not stressed and depressed,” she said.
Because she’s been in business as long as she has, Tate has become somewhat of a Leslieville legend. Many of her customers are regulars and affectionately refer to her as “mother”.
“Oh, it was busy on Saturday and Sunday,” she said. “[The customers] nearly drove me up the wall.”
Now, as you likely already know, real estate values in Toronto are among the highest in the country. Which means Tate’s properties are likely worth millions–but she still has no plans to sell.
“I’ve had at least 20 offers and I won’t sell it because I’m going to leave it to my daughters,” she said.
That’s pretty shocking for someone who once sifted through dumpsters just to keep herself financially afloat. But clearly, Tate’s business is a labour of love.
“I’ll retire when you’re ready to put me down for a holiday,” she said.
You can see how adorable Tate is yourself in the video above.