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Ivan Rita MastersBy MARTIN ZEILIG Although the name and ownership have changed to Master’s of London, the former Charleswood Department Store, at 3411 Roblin Boulevard, is still maintaining a custom – one started by the store’s previous owner, the late Ike Kraut.

It’s still a business where clientele are welcomed with that personal touch – thanks to the proprietors, Ivan and Rita Masters. It’s now 31 years since Rita immigrated to Winnipeg with Ivan and her other child, Michelle, from London, England.
After years in other locations in south Winnipeg, Ivan and his mother moved into their new building in early December 2014.
They specialize in discounted women’s fashion, regular and plus sizes, from such labels as Joseph Ribkoff, Simon Chang, Bylyse and many more from European designers, as well as carrying exclusive men’s fashion apparel from Italy, Turkey and Canada.
As its former name suggests, the building once housed more wide-ranging merchandise.
“My dad started in retail in St. Boniface as a young man,” said Marvin Kraut, one of Ike and Marlene Kraut’s four children (two sons and two daughters), said during a telephone interview from his business, Canadian Super Shop – an automotive parts and accessories company.
The Charleswood Department Store was originally called Sanderson’s Dry Goods, he added.
When Ike Kraut purchased it in 1957, he ran it under that name until 1970.
“Then, he expanded the store and changed the name to Charleswood Department Store,” Marvin Kraut continued, mentioning that his father made three additions to the store over the years.
“It was personalized service. My dad knew most of the customers by name, and he dressed their children and grandchildren. He ran it till his last day. He was very hard working. He was a great father who raised a family of four with my mother. He was there for us.”
Today, the single story building has almost 6000 square feet of floor space, Ivan Masters pointed out to me during a visit on a gloomy and sloppy Sunday afternoon in mid-December.
Masters and his mother originally started out in the women’s “plus size” apparel business 30 years ago at 670 Academy Road.
“In 1993, we bought the old Touch of Class Building on Academy Road and were there for seven years,” the good humoured, curly haired Ivan Masters said.
“Then, we moved into the Grant Park Shopping Centre. But, in 1993, we changed the name of our store to Boutique la Femme and carried plus and regular sizes. We were there for 10 years. When they started remodelling (the Grant Park Shopping Centre), we took a spot at Tuxedo Junction on Corydon Avenue.”
In 2014, he and his chatty, diminutive mum entered into negotiations with Ike Kraut to purchase the Charleswood Department Store, Ivan noted.
“Sadly, he passed away that year,” he said.
“But, his children knew we were interested. So, we sat down with them one morning and 15 minutes later we had a deal. We changed the name to reflect who we are and where we were from. “Masters of London” was our trading name in England. ”
“I love it here,” remarked Rita Masters, who was seated in a chair behind the checkout counter, while Ivan was busy tending to a customer’s needs.
“It’s big and airy. I don’t have to answer to anybody.”
Besides  women’s and men’s apparel, a stroll through the aisles also reveals shelves with supporting accessories: skin products, gourmet chocolates and a wide selection of giftware – including packages of items called Mashuga Nuts, a item brought in from the United States.
“We’re always listening to feedback from our clientele,” said Ivan, whose website notes that they buy globally, “so you can shop locally at affordable prices.”
They’re continuing on with Ike Kraut’s tradition of placing the customer first.

Masters of London is open from Monday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The store is only open on Sundays for special occasions. Tel: 204-489-1663.

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