When Stephanie Fowles first stepped foot on the hardwood floors of the repossessed house, she saw the big windows and floors and immediately felt the house could have kids in it.
“The bankers and realtors thought that it was a crazy idea,” Fowles recalls.
It didn’t deter her resolve to renovate and create what has become a legendary institution in Westsyde — Stephanie’s Small World — a place that has been a second home to so many Kamloops kids.
It began in 1978, in a modest split-level house, and evolved into a safe, fun day care for kids of various ages.
At the end of today (Aug. 1), Stephanie’s Small World will be closing.
When she told the kids and the parents about the closure, the children said they wanted to talk to her because she was going to sell the business.
“I said I had been sick and I thought [husband] Ken and I should have some time.”
Ken died in February, making this year challenging for Fowles.
He did all the repair work and together they spent untold hours in the centre.
“You get in here with the kids and you don’t have to worry about it for awhile,” Fowles said.
“I’ve been very lucky. It’s been a big family.
“The kids would say, ‘You know, you’re so lucky, Stephanie, because my mom has to go to work every day and you don’t ever have to go to work.’
“And I said, ‘You know, you’re right — because I have you.’”
She’s leasing the property to Bev Smerdal, who is buying the business and will re-open on Aug. 25 as Muddy Buddies.
Of the many special memories Fowles has, one in particular stands out.
Three weeks ago, a young girl brought in a baby and said, “I have orders from my boyfriend I had to bring this little girl in to see you.”
Fowles didn’t know the girl.
“So, she introduced me to the baby and she said, ‘This is Josh’s daughter.’”
I said, “You’ve got to be kidding. You’ve just made my day.”
“When Josh was little, he and I would have to dance every night before he went home from day care,” Fowles said.
“There was a certain song he liked and he would not leave until we danced together.
“He had his girlfriend put that song on her phone so I could dance with his daughter.”
When Fowles first opened Stephanie’s Small World, she didn’t think she would ever be able to tell these kinds of stories.
She now knows she can.