01 June 2013

Corner Stores: thoughts on Frances Bula's article on the return of the ubiquitous green grocer

Frances Bula wrote a lovely article about the return of the corner store for the Globe and Mail and then commented on it on her blog, This is my reply to her article:

Ah…the good old days. Growing up near 41st and Dunbar in the ’60′s we had Mr. Pyatt’s store (think of Alf’s on Coronation Street before it became a mini-mart) and the Blue Moon Confectionery. We also had a Royalite, a Pay ‘n’ Save, a Shell and a Home Oil gas station. There was the Quick Hardware, a Safeway and a Bank of Nova Scotia. A few other small business too (Trim’s five and dime comes to mind). There were 2 pharmacies (Nightingale, where I had my first job at 11 as a delivery boy, and Morans), two bakeries and two barber shops. All with in a three block area.

As an earlier poster suggested, this little village could survive then as most people walked to the store and carried their groceries home. The Royalite and Home Oil were the first casualties, then a Mac’s Milk opened and the Safeway expanded both in size and in hours. Some businesses expanded as other contracted, but as cars became more prevalent, shoppers could go to Kerrisdale or Oakridge to shop. Slowly the village disappeared. There are still shops at that corner but nothing like the ‘good old days’. The corner shop disappeared as malls, chains, and big box stores expanded.

Now I live in East Fraserlands and the closest store is up the hill at Champlain Mall. We’d love to have a corner store in our neighbourhood but the economics don’t favour it. Hopefully when the new River District becomes populated we’ll have a ‘High Street’ with shops and other amenities. Maybe by then I will have gone full circle and returned to my childhood village. I can only hope.

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