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3 lessons from a rural retailer

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0011_Lewis_YCM Jan 2015_Rural RetailerConvenience store retailers face a host of challenges every day, from staffing and product procurement to customer engagement and technology. But the one factor that makes the biggest impact of all is the store’s setting. That’s why we’re taking a look at the challenges and opportunities faced by rural, urban, and suburban retailers over the next three issues of YCM magazine.

First, we’re introducing you to Sarah and Mike Berry, owners of Advocate Country Store RiteStop in Advocate Harbour, NS. Their store is situated between two towns: 45 kilometres to Parrsboro, population 1,500, and 100 kilometres to Amherst, population 9,700.

Here are 3 things suburban and urban retailers can learn from this successful rural retailer: 

1. Diversify your services. Become that one-stop-shop by offering a number of services and products appropriate to your area.“In such a small area, we couldn’t make enough by just selling tobacco, canned soup, and loaves of bread. We would never survive,” says Sarah. “It would be a big disadvantage for us to be in such a small town, but because we’re able to diversify and do everything, it’s actually a benefit.”

2. Become a destination. Offer something unique to your area, and you’ll become the go-to spot for that product. “We’re a destination, not just a convenient stop along the way,” says Sarah. “A lot of people come here just for the baked goods, which include home-baked pies, piecrusts, fillings, bread, squares, cookies, doughnuts, and muffins. All of that is made fresh here,” she adds.

3. Connect with other businesses. Create a network of businesses in your area to ensure you know your neighbours, as well as the local services. “All of the businesses in the area try to work together because it’s all the small businesses and attractions that keep tourists coming back time and time again,” says Sarah.

For the Berrys, Advocate Country Store RiteStop doesn’t thrive in spite of its rural setting, it thrives and grows because of it.