“People sometimes underestimate how important convenience and corner stores are to a community,” Lawrence Briggs said during Atlantic Convenience Store Day. “They are operated by local people and employ local people. They are very important to the community.”
Convenience store day was held across the region for the fourth year to raise awareness of the importance of corner stores as well as to raise money for an important cause. This year, in Nova Scotia, money was being raised for Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers.
Briggs said the day is also away to thank customers for their loyalty and recognize the contributions of many convenience store owners and operators.
In Amherst, various law enforcement officers from the Amherst Police Department and RCMP worked the counter along with town councilors and other community leaders. An invitation was given to the county’s two MLAs but they were unavailable.
Convenience stores are not as prevalent as they once were. Things like tobacco legislation, changes to lottery rules have hurt business as has the growth of larger big box stores that sell more convenience items.
Also hurting Amherst area stores is the difference in price between tobacco in New Brunswick, compared to Nova Scotia as well as the lower HST. Lower gas prices across the border also drive customers to New Brunswick. While there, customers often pick up convenience items.
The arrival of Sunday shopping several years ago also impacted smaller stores since under the previous legislation corner stores could open while big box retailers could not because of square footage rules.
Briggs said there used to be many more convenience stores in Amherst, adding longtime businesses like the Willow QuickMart and Elliott’s Grocery disappeared along with smaller grocers like Jerry’s Ltd.
For Alfred King, the chairman of Cumberland County Crime Stoppers the day was one in which he could promote the organization and the work it does to help solve crimes.
“It’s great for us because it raises money we can use for our tips program and for promoting what we do in the community and in the province,” said King.
Last year, across the region more than $50,000 was raised in three hours for the Children’s Wish Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.