As a teenager, Véronique Chiasson says she never wanted to stay in the remote community where she grew up in Quebec’s rugged Lac-Saint-Jean region, let alone return there to take over the gas station and convenience store that her parents owned and operated on the outskirts of town.
“I wanted to go and see the world,” recalls Chiasson, who left Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc at age 18. “No way was I ever going back, especially to buy a business that I grew up watching my parents work 100 hours a week in.”
But a year ago, on the eve of the pandemic, Chiasson, now 35, did exactly that. “It’s a lot of hard work but I love it,” said Chiasson, who took over Dépanneur Chiasson Service Super Sagamie from her parents, Michel Chiasson and Line Dufour, in March 2020. “Everyone has been so supportive. It’s been like a dream come true.”
Located next to Hwy. 169, a provincial road that circles Lac Saint-Jean, the store sells gas from four pumps under the Crevier banner and is equipped with an electric vehicle (EV) charging station.
In addition to a SAQ outlet that allows the sale of alcohol, the store features regular c-store fare under the Sagamie banner, as well as beer, lottery tickets and ready-to-eat wraps, salads and healthy snacks that are made on site under La Cour aux Saveurs. The prepared food concept, from Montreal-based Beaudry & Cadrin, is a turnkey foodservice solution popular among Quebec c-stores.
Chiasson introduced the fresh food items shortly after taking over the store and she, along with her mom and long-time store employee Nancy Vaillancourt, can be found prepping in the kitchen most mornings.
“It’s super important. You want people who come in the store to be greeted with a smile.”
“You can’t show it being impatient or snappy with employees or customers when you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the work that has to be done. Especially during the pandemic, because everyone’s suffering.”
“Travelling helps build character and confidence so that you can say ‘no’ when you need to. It also allows you to see many businesses and what works and what doesn’t.”
This Retailer Spotlight originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Convenience Store News Canada.