Shuttered store too good an opportunity for former international students

International student reopens only convenience store in one of the oldest communities in the City of Greater Sudbury.

The only convenience store serving one of the City of Greater Sudbury's oldest communities has reopened under new ownership.

Darshil Prajapati, Akash Patel and Viraj Shah purchased Falconbridge Confectionary earlier this summer with the intent of reviving the store, which was closed for almost a year. The store reopened in early August.

Prajapati came to Canada as an international student in 2017 to study business accounting at Georgian College in Barrie. When it came time to complete his co-op in 2020, he chose an opportunity in Chelmsford.

“I really liked the community around here so that's why I decided to stay,'' says the 24-year-old businessman. “I realized Sudbury was very nice and came to know that the store had been closed for eight months or so.''

He says the realtor told him that the Falconbridge residents missed having the store, which serves the community of 500, plus employees who work at Glencore's Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations. Both the smelter and Sudbury head office are located in Falconbridge.

“I thought this would make a positive impact in the community,” Prajapati says about taking over the store.

Prajapati adds he chose to pursue his post-secondary education in Canada because of the country's diversity. “I chose the lifestyle, which is very different here from where I come from”  in the Gujarat state of India. “I wanted to be in a country with better safety and quality of life.”

Rather than settling in Toronto after college, he decided to remain in the Sudbury area.

“In the Toronto area, there is a lot of competition, as well as in the bigger cities,” he adds. “Working in Chelmsford for a few months for my co-op, I realized the Sudbury community is very nice and everyone is supportive.”

Prajapati says he researched Falconbridge before he purchased the business and then pitched the idea to his business partners, who live in Barrie but all take turns working the storefront while juggling their full-time jobs.

“This is an opportunity we can't get in Barrie,” he says. “Our motivation is to stay in the North.”

Falconbridge began as a lumber camp in the late 1800s, with most of the lumber being shipped to the U.S. to help rebuild Chicago homes after the great fire. In 1902, Thomas Edison travelled to the Sudbury area in search of nickel and cobalt deposits to use for his electronic equipment. A year later, he found a large body of ore in the Falconbridge area and attempted to sink a shaft but encountered quicksand.

He made numerous unsuccessful attempts and later abandoned his project and returned to the U.S. It wasn't until 1928 that Thayer Lindsley purchased the land and established Falconbridge Mines Limited.Shortly after, the first mine shaft was sunk. The community grew to include a general store, post office and one-room schoolhouse.

For his part, Prajapati says he's working hard to rebuild the business name while consulting with community members to see what they would like to see in the store. The building is more than 50 years old, so significant investment was required to retrofit the facility.

Falconbridge Confectionary sells beverages, snacks, coffee and select grocery items. The store has grab-and-go food but Prajapati adds if there's demand, he hopes to add freshly made sandwiches and healthy lunch food in the near future.

Falconbridge Confectionary is open seven days a week and is located at 11 Parkinson St.


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