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N.S.-based Hanhams Gas and Convenience expands into wholesale

photo of the gas and convenience store
Source: Google Street View

Hanhams Gas and Convenience is located approximately midway between Canso and Guysborough in Half Island Cove, N.S. on Hwy 16. The store is well-known to locals and has been a haven for tourists frantically seeking fuel, ice cream and beverages--both soft and not--during the summer months. As of last month, the location has expanded its offerings, to include wholesale items. For area residents, it's a welcome addition and proprietor Dave Hanhams has been pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction.

"The biggest thing I`ve been enjoying about this, ever since I started it, is how happy people seem to be when they come in. They are glad that it is here, and they are happy they can get what they want. It is really good to see people out and people happy, especially with the pandemic going on,'' Hanhams told The Journal in a June 3 interview.

Despite what people might assume, Hanhams said he had been thinking about starting a new arm of his business before the pandemic started; it just happened to get off the ground in the third wave.

Items were on shelves and ready for shoppers about a month ago, said Hanhams, but the idea started long before.

"I started off by thinking of importing stuff from China. I researched that and learned a lot about that and then, with COVID and everything, there were a lot of complications with the expense of shipping ? so that really wasn't going to work. So, then I moved on to this venture. It has been in the works for a while but just getting going in the last month.''

This venture, a wholesale business with stock bought both online and from Costco--an American wholesale corporation with international outlets, including stores and warehouses in the Halifax Regional Municipality--sells wholesale items at the Hanhams location in Half Island Cove and stores them at a warehouse in Canso.

The decision to launch Hanhams Wholesale came from a desire to attract more customers into the original business, Hanhams Gas and Convenience.

"I was looking for a way to draw more customers into my store, create more traffic which would increase sales for other items. I thought if I could supply products at a good price, it would bring more people in which would upsell a lot of other stuff plus offer the community a good chance on savings for their grocery items,'' said Hanhams.

And where is he putting the bulk packages and boxes of paper towels, coffee, toothpaste, Goldfish crackers and more?

"That's a challenge I'm working on right now; to come up with some solutions. But when I started three or four weeks ago, I just made some room and I thought that would be sufficient, but I see now that's probably not going to be enough space,'' said Hanhams, adding that he's working on winnowing out products that don't sell well to create more room for wholesale items.

Starting a new business is a risk at any time but, in the middle of a pandemic, one would think the risk would be increased. And it was the skyrocketing cost of transport brought about by the pandemic that made Hanhams pivot from his original idea of importing goods from China to the wholesale business. But since then, COVID-19 has not impacted his plans as much.

"I mainly ordered products online starting off but now that the restrictions are letting up some, I'll be able to go to the warehouse,'' he said.

One of the other incentives to start the new business for Hanhams was a property that he had acquired a few years back, which until now, had not been put to good use.

"That's one thing that kind of brought this on. I knew I had this building, and I wasn't utilizing it in the way I wanted to so I thought, `What can I do with this building?' I thought if I did get into something like this wholesale, I would definitely have room to store it,'' Hanhams said.

The success of Hanhams Wholesale to date has been in part due to the support of the customers and staff.

"Because I can't do it by myself,'' he said.

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