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Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Atlantic C-Store News July 2017

July 25, 2017
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Convenience Store Day goes national

Annual event recognizes contributions of c-store retailers to the communities they serve.

 

It started out as a nugget of an idea in 2012 involving three convenience stores in Atlantic Canada. This year, the convenience industry’s seventh annual Convenience Store Day, (C-Store Day) will launch as a nation-wide event on August 26th.

 

According to Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, back then the association was looking for a way to raise the profile of c-stores among community leaders in a fun way; to build relationships and goodwill with c-store owners/operators and employees; to reinforce the role that c-stores play in the communities they serve; and to generate ‘good news’ media coverage.

 

“We looked at some great ideas from our Ontario and Québec association colleagues and thought, ‘let’s take the best of these ideas and do a scalable event at the store level called C-Store Day that gets community leaders involved. “And it just snowballed from there as the number of participating stores grew by leaps and bounds.

 

“We added a fundraising element and individual stores really got involved adding things for their customers like giveaways, hot dog and hamburger barbecues, cake and cupcakes, special promotions, even dunk tanks and so on. All-in-all it’s been a great success.”

 

Satinder Chera, president of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, liked the idea right away when he saw a C-Store Day highlight video shortly after he had joined the association last year.

 

“I thought it is was great that C-Store Day had become a major small business event in Atlantic Canada, and that so many politicians and other community leaders kept returning year-after-year to participate. I talked up the idea at the national level and received great support, along with event sponsorships, that have made it possible to launch C-Store Day nation-wide this year. It’s all very exciting.”

 

This year’s fundraising partner will be Children’s Wish Foundation, Canada’s largest wish-granting charity. Major corporate sponsors include convenience store retailers Parkland Fuel Corp., Couche-Tard, Circle K, Needs Convenience, MacEwen Petroleum and North Atlantic Petroleum.

 

“We’ve had a great C-Store Day partnership with the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association in Atlantic Canada,” says Rea Ganesh, national director, Development at Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. “And we’re very pleased and excited now to be part of this national event and expanding the opportunities to be able to grant more wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening illness.”

 

C-Store Day 2017 will be a true coast-to-coast event ranging from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in the east, to Victoria, British Columbia in the west. The names and locations of all participating retail locations can be found online at www.cstoreday.ca

 

Not that the organizers are rushing to sign-up thousands of convenience store host sites as the national launch nears: “We learned in Atlantic Canada that if we concentrate on putting on a quality event, then the host site growth takes care of itself as word spreads among both retailers and politicians,” says event manager Steve Dunne. “We will have more than 150 stores participate this year, coast to coast. We’re really excited about the potential there is for C-Store Day as a national event, so quality over quantity in the beginning, is a good strategy for growth.”

 

Newfoundland and Labrador Children’s Charity Golf Classic fast approaching

Take a swing for a good cause.
The ACSA’s annual Newfoundland and Labrador charity golf tournament takes place on August 17 this year at Clovelly Golf Club in St. John’s.

 

“It’s a great way to socialize and touch base with retailers and suppliers in our industry,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. “And every participant is helping a local children’s charity organization, so it’s all for a great cause as well.”

 

Player registration, sponsorship and sample bag forms can be found on the ACSA website by clicking here.

 

Liberals retain majority in Nova Scotia election
Party first to win back-to-back majorities since 1988.

 

Stephen MacNeil and his Liberal party returned to Province House as the Nova Scotia government after winning a second straight majority victory at the end of May.

 

“Overall we were pleased with the government’s work under Premier MacNeil and we had built a pretty collaborative working relationship with key offices such as Service Nova Scotia,” says Mike Hammoud at the ASCA.  “There are some new heads of departments that are important to us, such as Karen Casey as finance minister and Geoff MacLellan as minister of Business and Service Nova Scotia, and we’ll be setting up introductory meetings with them soon.”

 

Federal plain tobacco packaging bill takes summer hiatus

Feds still plan on pushing bill through.

 

In November, 2016, the Bill S-5 was introduced in the Senate. Entitled An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, the bill would regulate vaping products as a separate class of products. More importantly, it would open the regulatory door for the federal government to introduce “plain and standardized packaging” measures for tobacco products that were proposed by Health Canada in a consultation document.

 

Bill S-5 was passed by the Senate in early June and received First Reading in the House of Commons on June 15th. With the House now in summer recess, the bill goes into a holding pattern.

 

“We’ve never understood why the federal government is so dead-set on implementing plain tobacco packaging,” says Mike Hammoud at the ACSA. “It hasn’t worked in Australia since smoking rates haven’t gone down while contraband sales have increased and industry has experienced a lot of extra costs with the increased inventory management that has been needed.”

 

New chair and board member at the ACSA
Association takes hats off to departing chair Warren Maynard.

 

Long-time board member and current chair of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, Warren Maynard, has retired from the board and many heart-felt thanks go out to him from the Atlantic convenience industry.

 

“Warren is one of the real veterans in the c-store industry and he’s been a hands-on board member with the ACSA since the association was founded in 2008,” says Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. “We can’t thank him enough for the time, care and contribution that he’s made to our industry through the association.”

 

Current board member Craig Pardy from Needs Convenience has taken on additional responsibilities as the new chair of the association. The ACSA also welcomes Jamie Smith from the Corey Craig Group as a new board member representing independent retailers. The Corey Craig Group is a leading New Brunswick retail customer hospitality organization whose businesses include four gas and convenience sites.

 

Follow the cannabis trail…

Provincial governments planning for regulation and retailing of legalized recreational marijuana.

 

With the July 1, 2018 target date for federal legalization of recreational marijuana now less than a year away, provincial governments are into some heavy planning on how to regulate and retail the many different products that will be available.”

 

“There are many, many decisions that provincial governments need to make such as age of access, distribution and product potency,” says Mike Hammoud, President of the ACSA. “As c-store retailers, we’re particularly interested in how and where recreational marijuana will be retailed.”

 

A New Brunswick Working Group within the provincial government recently released highlights of its recommendations. These included a Crown corporation model to regulate and sell recreational cannabis and a minimum legal age of 19 for the purchase and consumption.

 

“It looks like New Brunswick wants to keep everything in-house,” says Hammoud. “New Brunswick Liquor Corporation will likely be responsible for distribution and retailing, but the retailing channel would not include the liquor stores, so there will have to be different storefronts.”

 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the government is currently looking for public input on the issue and has launched a website at www.engagenl.ca for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to give their opinion on basic questions around the legal sale of marijuana.

 

While the issue has reportedly been “kicked around” within the Nova Scotia government for months, nothing concrete has been put forward in terms of plans or recommendations. Premier Stephen MacNeil is advocating for one system for all of Atlantic Canada and claims that all four Atlantic premiers are in agreement on that.

 

Finance Minister Karen Casey said recently that the time has come for Nova Scotians to have input on how the government should deal with legalized marijuana and that consultations would likely begin by late summer or early fall.     Prince Edward Island looks to be taking a wait-and-see approach to recreational marijuana regulation and retailing. Premier Wade MacLauchlan has said that the province won’t be taking the lead on implementation, but has stressed the need for a “consistent approach,” particularly among the Atlantic provinces.

 

Will the push for higher minimum wages backfire?

The Seattle experience may be a warning light.

 

With Alberta and Ontario on the path to introducing a $15 an hour minimum wage there are no shortage of armchair quarterbacks yaying and naying the potential impact. But the real-life experience of the City of Seattle may be a troubling warning.

 

In 2015, city hall voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour over several years. For employers with more than 500 employees in the United States, that $15 rate was reached on January 1st this year. Minimum wage for employers with fewer than 500 employees in the U.S. is currently at $11 and will reach the $15 mark in 2021.

 

While there was good intent that a higher minimum wage would benefit low-income workers, there is already evidence of a negative impact with some employers reducing hours, letting workers go, or delaying or cancelling new hiring.

 

According to a study commissioned by the city and released in June, the costs to low-wage workers in Seattle have outweighed the benefits to this point by a ratio of three to one. That works out to an average loss of $125 per month for low-income workers in Seattle.

 

“Not surprisingly, the study has both its supporters and critics,” says Craig Pardy, chair of the ACSA. “We all know that labour is our largest cost factor and we experienced rapid increases in minimum wages in Atlantic Canada several years ago.

 

“Reduced hours and fewer staff are a fact of life in managing labour costs, but that can be eased to some extent if we have more predictable minimum wage increases, like the increases that are now being tied to factors such as the consumer price index by some provinces.”

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