© Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen-Record
Advocate Country Store won the Rite Stop of the Year award at the recent awards banquet held annually by Co-Op Atlantic in Moncton, N.B. Accepting the award were (front, from left) Carolyn Flueck, Doris Collins (back) Rosemary Morris, Karen McCully, Sarah and Mike Berry.
ADVOCATE HARBOUR – For four years the local community has been supporting its local country store, and more than just owners Mike and Sarah Berry have noticed it. The Advocate Country Store was named Rite Stop of the Year by Co-Op Atlantic at its recent awards banquet in Moncton, N.B., one year after it received an excellence award at the same event. Criteria for the award includes factors such as growth, compliance with the Co-Op program, cleanliness, customer service and sales, but Mr. Berry summed up their success to one major contributing factor. "To achieve what we have achieved, we get great support from the community first and foremost," he said. "Without that, I don't think any store could survive, it doesn't matter where you're at. If you get good community support, you can have pretty much anything in your community." The Advocate area also has a great tourism base, and all local destination operators work well to promote each other, Mr. Berry explained. A customer at the store might have a sandwich already in their hand, but if they inquire about any local restaurants, the Berrys direct them to the nearby Wild Caraway, and that works both ways. From the beginning the Berrys have strived to make their business more than just a convenience store, and in the past year have renovated the store to allow for more sitting room, an expanded food area with improved baking, a new oven for improved speed and productivity. They try to serve not only the local community but also tourists, whether they are snowmobilers, ATV riders, or campers staying for a week. "We want to become a stopping destination as well as the local store," he said. Receiving the award was a nice accolade after the hard work and investment they have put in, according to Mrs. Berry. "It was quite exciting," she said. "I thought when they were counting the excellence awards that we weren't going to get one, and then they started talking about a store and I knew it was us." They also credited their success to support they have received from Cumberland Business Development Corporation (which helped with the store's new Facebook page); Co-Op and Irving for great service; and a loyal staff, four of whom (Doris Collins, Carolyn Flueck, Karen McCully and Rosemary Morris) have been there from the beginning.