by Russell Purcell

Tubby's Garage
Click image to enlarge

Regular readers of my car reviews may have noticed that I usually try to select interesting locations to serve as backdrops for my automotive photography. This is done in an effort to better showcase the vehicles and give the reviews some added visual flair. One such location is Tubby’s Garage, a nostalgic gas station nestled in the shadow of the Coast Mountains, just west of Hope, B.C. Tubby’s is such an excellent backdrop that I tend to visit it more than I should, but to be honest, the place and the people involved with its operation are so captivating that it is hard to resist paying a visit when I am in the neighbourhood. Recently I had the chance to chat with Shawn Audet, the owner of Tubby’s Garage, to find out a little more about this unique business and how it came to be.
RP: So where did the idea for “Tubby’s Garage” come from?

SA: My wife Sharon and I have been in the antique/nostalgia business for 23 years now. Our business was formerly known as “The Dust & Cobweb Shop,” but we opted for the new name in respect to a close friend whose idea it was to create a nostalgic building as a delivery vehicle for our business. This, coupled with our need for a name more consistent with the style of the building, was why we settled on “Tubby’s Garage.”

Shawn Audet, owner of Tubby's Garage
Shawn Audet, the owner of Tubby’s Garage. Click image to enlarge

RP: Is your friend a portly fellow?

SA: No, the name is in homage to a hotrod he had in the past that we called ‘Tubby.’

RP: What was the building originally?

SA: Actually, the building is brand new.

RP: Wow! I was sure it was just an outstanding renovation of an old gas station.

SA: No, but thanks, as that means our mission was accomplished.

RP: So you designed and built the building yourself?

SA: We purchased the bare land in 1996 and set forth to design a unique building that would appeal to the travelling public so that we could attract customers from nearby Highway 1.

RP: I know that is how I found your store.

Tubby's Garage
Tubby's Garage
Click image to enlarge

SA: See. It works. Build it and they will come. My wife Sharon, being the formidable artist that she is, drew a colour representation of our shared vision way back in 1996 that is virtually what you see here today. Both buildings are new structures (Shawn and his family make their home in a house situated next door to Tubby’s that was designed to look like a ‘general store’ from the same era as the garage, which is in effect a 1950’s era B-A station – RP) and were designed and built by us over the last two years.

Tubby's Garage

Tubby's Garage
Click image to enlarge

RP: You know I am always so engrossed in taking in all the sights at Tubby’s that I hadn’t really noticed how great your residence looked at all.

SA: The two buildings have proven to be a winning combination. They attract a lot of passing car buffs, not to mention those individuals that like to reflect on memories from their past.

RP: I would imagine that all the colourful signage, retro pumps and static displays bring some interesting customers to your doors.

SA: As we are situated adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway (a mere 20 minutes east of Chilliwack, B.C.) most of our customers come from the Lower Mainland or the interior. We have become a popular destination for a lot of car clubs that, like you, use Tubby’s as a backdrop for photographs.

RP: I can see that. Most similar facilities are run-down or derelict, while yours really has curb appeal.

SA: Yeah, we can get quite a few vehicles on site, which is why we chose a large circular driveway. I have seen a lot of cool cars come through here in the past two years.

Tubby's Garage
Tubby's Garage
Click image to enlarge

RP: Have you always been a fan of automobilia, and why the focus on petroliana?

SA: My wife and I have been longtime fans of petroliana so it was natural for us to use the gas theme as a way to showcase our antiques business. Our goal was to take advantage of our restored pump collection (which numbered over 30) and the hundreds of oil tins and signs that we possessed and display them in a tasteful manner.

RP: Besides petroliana, what other types of items do you sell through the garage?

SA: We carry a broad range of both antiques and reproductions including everything from barber chairs to windmills, soda items, signs and reproduction nostalgia that we import from across North America.

RP: I also noticed lots of other unique treasures like die-cast cars, interesting furniture and even some cool pedal cars.

SA: We try to keep a wide variety of items on hand so that everyone who visits can find something of interest in the store.

RP: I understand scouts and prop masters from the television and movie industry have paid a few visits to the garage? Care to name drop?

SA: We have always had a good relationship with the movie industry and have sold items to be used as props to a number of productions. One of our more recent transactions was destined for use in the television series “Smallville.” A short feature film was also shot on location here at Tubby’s this past summer, for display at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was cool to see behind-the-scenes.

We have also had some noted musicians as clients, whom we’ll leave anonymous at this time, but the core of our business is still “Jill and Joe Canadian” who are looking for something to spruce up their recreation room or kitchen.

Tubby's Garage
Tubby's Garage
Click image to enlarge

RP: Care to reveal any future plans?

SA: Well we have a website in the works, which will be firing up real soon!

RP: Where are you located?

SA: We are located just off Highway 1 between the Jones Lake and Hunter Creek exits near the scales on the way to Hope.

RP: How can interested parties contact you?

SA: The best way to learn more about Tubby’s Garage and the products we sell is by dropping in, but the telephone is a close second. Our number is 604-869-2000.

Connect with