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Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Atlantic C-Store News November 2017

November 27, 2017
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Crime bust reinforces organized crime’s involvement in contraband tobacco trade
A major crime bust in Ontario in early November highlighted just how active organized crime is in illegal activities
 
The bust came about through the ability of the RCMP-led Greater Toronto Area Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit to infiltrate organized crime networks. As a result of the investigation, numerous drug, weapons and contraband tobacco trafficking charges were laid along with a number of seizures that included more than 3-million contraband cigarettes.
 
“Tip-of-the-hat to all law enforcement agencies working hard to crack down on illegal trade,” says ACSA President Mike Hammoud. “There have been a number of contraband tobacco seizures this year in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and we just have to stay vigilant and keep the pressure on.”

 
 

ACSA president “makes the rounds” in Newfoundland
Back in September, ACSA President Mike Hammoud flew into Deer Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador, and then proceeded to visit more than 30 convenience stores between Corner Brook and St. John’s.
 
“What really impressed me overall,” says Hammoud, “was the effort that retailers were putting into making their stores more welcoming and productive. There were brand spanking new stores, like Marie’s Mini Mart on Kiwanis Street in St. John’s, and there were some that were in the middle of great renovations, like the Orange Store in Witless Bay. And then there were others who had done strategic add-ons, like O’Brien’s Clover Farm and Ultramar in Cape Broyle, who added a deli and grab-and-go.”
Hammoud says that what he saw in Newfoundland was part of a common denominator he’s seeing right across Atlantic Canada, which is change: “We’re in a world today where time, and customers, change quickly. To be competitive, and profitable, we’re always on the look-out now for ways to reinvent or rejig our product and service offerings to meet both the wants and needs of our customers. With ever increasing competition from other players in the retail convenience space, we need to be flexible and fluid to see the need for change and respond accordingly in order that we can continue to excel.”
 
Hammoud is making plans now for a similar retail site visit initiative in the Maritimes in 2018.

 
 

Split developing between provinces on how to retail recreational cannabis
(With notes from the Toronto Star)
A split is developing on recreational cannabis legislation with some provinces leaning towards a government-operated monopoly, while other provinces are leaning towards private retail.
So far, only four provinces, Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have taken a public stand on how they will regulate the retail sale of recreational cannabis. Ontario and New Brunswick are going the government-operated monopoly route. Manitoba will distribute product to licensed private retailers, while Newfoundland and Labrador will control online sales and distribute product to licensed “bricks and mortar” retailers.
 
Alberta and British Columbia appear to be open to the private sector model while the Maritime provinces are likely to follow New Brunswick’s lead given the current popularity among the Maritime Premiers for a harmonized approach to government policies, regulations and services.
Andrew Klukas, president of the Western Convenience Store Association, says that what is developing is a “Prohibition-era mentality” in Eastern Canada versus a free-market view in the West: “Out here in the West we’re being a bit more pragmatic and looking at it from the perspective of tomorrow and what the world’s going to look like. The stigma is not going to exist in the future.”
 
More troubling, Klukas said, is that the decision by governments to limit the legal supply of cannabis will only encourage illegal distributors to continue filling the demand: “You’re going to undermine one of the main intentions of the federal legislation. That’s what you’re seeing in Ontario.”
 
Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, takes a dim view of government-run monopolies controlling the retailing of recreational cannabis: “With new, standalone infrastructure to sell one product, we don’t see how government-run retail outlets can be competitive versus the illegal market. And that’s just self-defeating. Convenience stores have a lower cost infrastructure in place and lots of experience retailing age-restricted products. It’s hard to see government logic for a monopoly and Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador seem to agree.”

 
 

Best in Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry celebrated
Atlantic Canada’s convenience store industry recognized industry excellence at the ACSA’s 9th annual Retail Convenience Awards Gala held in November at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Sponsored by Atlantic Lottery Corporation, the awards recognize excellence in four categories: President’s Excellence; Innovative Beverage; Innovative Food; and Innovative Health Food or Beverage.
 
The President’s Excellence award is given to businesses that have demonstrated excellence in operations, and are clearly viewed as an important and valuable part of their community. This year’s winners are:
• Dwight Fraser, FMI Group, Woodstock, NB
• Jerry Scholten, Scholten’s Grocery & Video, Fredericton, NB
• John and Patricia Snow, Mister T’s Ultramar, Gander, Nfld
• Lee-Anne Hagerman, Gottingen Street Corner Store, Halifax, NS
 
Gold Peak Tea is the winner in the Innovative Beverage award category with Gatorade Frost and Jones Soda being the other finalists. Reese Big Cup Stuffed with Pieces was chosen as the winner in the Innovative Food category, with other Innovative Food finalists being Dare Real Jubes and Doritos Heat Wave BBQ & Chili.
In the Innovative Health Food or Beverage category, Muscle MLK Protein Shakes is the award winner. Other finalists were KIND Almond Mocha & Dark Chocolate and Oasis Infusion.
“Everyone is a winner in my book,” said Mike Hammoud, president of the ACSA. “We were so pleased to have so many great companies and individuals nominated.”

 
 

Keynote speaker at Retail Convenience Awards Gala speaks about the power of communities
Wadih Fares is founder, president and chief executive officer of W.M. Fares Group, a highly successful Halifax-based property development and management company. Fares was the keynote speaker at the ACSA’s 9th Retail Convenience Awards Gala and shared his experience with the power of communities and the links to the convenience store industry.
 
Fares was born in Lebanon and came to Halifax in 1976; enrolled at Dalhousie University that Fall; became an engineer four years later; got married two years later; and launched W.M. Fares Group in 1983.
Fares said that his path from Lebanon to being the keynote speaker that night was surrounded by “the power of communities.”
“Communities have meant so much to me. When I enrolled at Dalhousie, I spoke no English. It was support from the Lebanese-Canadian community in Halifax and the university community that helped in so many ways. I remember in the early days I would write papers in Arabic and then my Lebanese community friends would translate them into English. Later on, when I started writing papers in English, my university friends would pitch in to show me my mistakes and help me polish my work.
Keynote speaker at Retail Convenience Awards Gala speaks about the power of communities.
 
Wadih Fares is founder, president and chief executive officer of W.M. Fares Group, a highly successful Halifax-based property development and management company. Fares was the keynote speaker at the ACSA’s 9th Retail Convenience Awards Gala and shared his experience with the power of communities and the links to the convenience store industry.
Fares was born in Lebanon and came to Halifax in 1976; enrolled at Dalhousie University that Fall; became an engineer four years later; got married two years later; and launched W.M. Fares Group in 1983.
Fares said that his path from Lebanon to being the keynote speaker that night was surrounded by “the power of communities.”
 
“Communities have meant so much to me. When I enrolled at Dalhousie, I spoke no English. It was support from the Lebanese-Canadian community in Halifax and the university community that helped in so many ways. I remember in the early days I would write papers in Arabic and then my Lebanese community friends would translate them into English. Later on, when I started writing papers in English, my university friends would pitch in to show me my mistakes and help me polish my work.
“And it was the power of communities that helped to launch my career in construction and property development. My early commissions…a new home, a small apartment building, a storefront development…came from people in the Lebanese-Canadian community. My first business loan came from investors within the community. The community gave me the opportunity to prove myself and the community was there to support the growth of both my family and my business.”
Fares spoke about how corner stores, now convenience stores for the most part, are an integral part of most every community and through hard work and great customer service on the store owner’s or manager’s part, communities support the store.
“Our communities support us, but we can’t take anything for granted. We have to serve our communities and meet their needs, or they’ll simply take their business elsewhere. Whether you’re an independent or corporate store, you have to work hard and you have to take calculated risks. You have to be tough-minded.”
 
Fares ended by noting the power of the community of convenience stores: “My last thought on the power of communities is the community of convenience stores itself. In my business, a large number of the Halifax-area developers are Lebanese. We’re tough competitors, but we also co-operate and assist one-another.
“I look at your Atlantic Convenience Stores Association and I see a lot of similarities with my business…tough competitors, but a community of businesses who co-operate and work together for common goals and purposes. Together you are stronger.”
As a small token of our appreciation, the ACSA has made a $1,000 donation to the Epilepsy Association of NS, a charity supported by Mr. Fares.

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