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2023 Star Women in Convenience winner: Mallory Sjaarda

Store-level Star
Mallory Sjaarda General manager Port Albert General Store & Pub
Mallory Sjaarda General manager Port Albert General Store & Pub

General manager

Port Albert General Store & Pub 


How did you get into this business? 

My grandparents owned a general store a lot like this one in a town similar to Port Albert, Ont. After I finished university, I started working here as a server for a summer job. A few months later when the opportunity arose, I became general manager. I’ve been here ever since managing the store and pub. 

What do you like most about your job?

The sense of community in a small town. Getting to know the customers and working side by side with some wonderful people. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people from all over Canada and the United States. It’s especially rewarding to see the same customers come back year after year to Port Albert. Many of the customers have even become good friends of mine. 

What was the biggest challenge of your career?

Navigating the business through the pandemic, with the restrictions, labour shortages and increased inflation costs. Several products were on back order or we were not able to get in, which meant we weren’t able to sell or use them. The constant changes to the restrictions during the pandemic meant making quick changes to policies in order to keep the staff and customers safe. Small businesses took a big hit during the pandemic and are still trying to get back to 'normal'.

What's the best advice you ever received?

I have received good advice from several people, including my parents, my grandparents, colleagues and customers. One piece of advice that I try to adhere to is to stand behind my work and what I’m doing. I try to ensure every customer has a great experience and wants to come back. Customers will remember and appreciate when you go above and beyond for them.

What's your career highlight/biggest achievement?

Learning how to run and manage a business with so many moving parts. Considering I have no background in convenience and my degree is in social work, I did not have very much experience going into this. I had to learn as I went. It was a great learning opportunity for me, and I was able to connect with so many people, between suppliers, customers, and other businesses. Every day brings a new opportunity to learn and better the business. 


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