But that’s not the only thing Payne and her store are known for.
Her main initiative in the community is raising funds for the fire department’s annual toy drive. “Two years ago, I started something that we call Grinch Busters,” she says. She enlisted the help of over 50 businesses in the area, and now together, they raise funds for their community’s annual toy drive.
She designed a recognizable logo for this fundraiser, and sells branded merchandise in store, including Grinch Busters t-shirts and stickers. In addition to summertime barbecues, on the last Saturday of November, Fox’s General Store becomes the centre of the community’s fundraising efforts. “For that one day, all my ice cream sales are added to the pot. We have local celebrities and politicians who come in and serve the ice cream on that day, too,” says Payne.
Aside from her successful advertising and branding efforts, Payne understands that her 12 to 15 staff members are her most important asset when building a sense of community around her store. “I make sure there’s always enough staff here so that customers aren’t shuffled through like cattle. In busy times that’s difficult, no doubt, but we try to make sure our staff have the time to ask how somebody’s day is.”
Most importantly, customers are treated like valued friends at Fox’s General Store. “We have a lot of regular customers, and everybody is our friend. The customers who come into our store are not looked at as dollar bills walking in and out of the building – they’re people,” says Payne.
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