The Charlie Lake Store has a new owner, and renovations are underway to return the Alaska Highway service station back into a bustling centre of business.
Jack Hynes closed a deal for the store last week — it wasn't on the market, but Hynes says he was prompted to approach its former owner a few months ago after getting several requests to bring a liquor store to the community.
"Crunching some numbers on the population growing out there in Charlie Lake, if we do a better job with the store, get the fuel back, and the full-service liquor store, the opportunity is tremendous there," said Hynes, who owns On The Rocks in Fort St. John.
"I want to see if we can make the store great again for the community. We want to run it like we run our other businesses: keep it clean, keep it stocked, and treat your customers like you want them to come back.”
Hynes has already installed new gas pumps, and will sell fuel under the Tempo brand, and supplied by Co-Op.
The rest of the building has been gutted for a complete redesign that will include a 3,000-square-feet convenience store and pizzeria, and a 2,000-square-foot liquor store. There will be all new floors, lighting, and counters, as well as a new paint job, and parking lot pothole fixes before repaving is done in the spring, Hynes said.
With the selling price and cost of renovations, it's a multi-million dollar investment, Hynes said, adding the response so far from the community has been positive.
"Ribs, the spuds, the dip, the parking, and making sure it's stocked and clean — if I do those six things, I'm going to be set," Hynes said.
He plans to bring back propane sales and hopes he can lure Canada Post back too. Hynes plans for the store to reopen in mid-November.
Many people have a connection to the store, whether they live in Charlie Lake or Fort St. John, or beyond, Hynes said.
"I've been here 26 years and Charlie Lake store is a part of me too. Ribs and spuds, going up the highway to go work in the oil patch," he said.
"It's part of the community, it's part of Fort St. John, it's part of almost anybody that comes up north."
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