Service centre owner urges people to shop locally
-by John Gillis
The Judique Service Centre
Having a grocery store or service station in your community is not something to take for granted anymore. Just ask those people in rural Cape Breton who have lost their last remaining store or service centre and you hear tales of having to drive long distances for essentials or gas.
Wayne MacInnis of Judique knows this very well. In fact, his living depends on it.
“It’s always a challenge to get people to buy locally. If people would shop more locally and think more about supporting the local economy they’d see the results in keeping jobs in the our communities. You just need to look at Mulgrave and Glendale as examples of communities where you can no longer even buy gas,” says MacInnis.
Inverness County residents have also seen the recent closures of the Irving stations in Whycocomagh and in Margaree Forks over the past year.
MacInnis has been operating Wayne’s Variety Store in Judique since he purchased it in 2006. He’s a local guy who grew up in Long Point and spent much of his life working at the Port Hawkesbury paper mill.
“I learned like everyone else about the mill closure in September of 2011. I found out when Port Hawkesbury Paper took it over recently that they were shutting down the newsprint machine, and I would be one of the guys they wouldn’t be calling back. I’d worked there for 23 years, so for the sake of an income I thought I should begin looking elsewhere. I had the store and the postal outlet here, and I took on the Liquor Agency outlet in 2006. I heard the service station was for sale so I purchased it from Danny and Tanya Walters who were returning to western Canada,” he told The Oran last week.
Just as it was in taking over the store, taking on the ownership of what he now calls the Judique Service Station has meant learning a lot of new skills.
“There were those that were afraid we might lose the service. I’ve gone back to running the service station full-service, and there are people very happy about that as well. We have a lot of elderly people and people going to work in Port Hawkesbury that don’t want to do self-serve,” he added.
Many services centres are branching out in order to find other ways of earing money given the low margins that now exist in selling gasoline and diesel.
Wayne says the previous owners tried some new things such as rentals and ice-cream sales, but those didn’t work out too well.
There are also a few used cars for sale on the lot, but those are being sold by another previous owner of the service station, Duncan MacEachern.
Wayne has decided to sell furnace oil, and as for future plans he says he’s looking into the possibility of offering auto detailing services.
“When I first got into this business last summer I didn’t fully understand the options of opting out of regulation or not, but I’m learning. I’ve opted out, and that means the profit margin on the gas can fluctuate. There’s always a bit of a learning curve to taking on a new business, but the people are very happy locally to see it staying in operation and being owned locally,” he concluded.
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