Times are tough for convenience store owners


The times are tough for convenience store owners

Chantal Lemire, owner of the Sabrijoe market in Sherbrooke.

Inflation, product exclusivities, payment card fees, competition from large banners, there are many difficulties for owner-retailers, who often have very few possibilities to make ends meet.

In small businesses, like the Sabrijoe market in the Rock Forest sector in Sherbrooke, the profit margin is very slim for the products sold. If the minimum wage goes up, you have to adjust your prices, but do you really think we're doing that? We don't, says the owner of the place, Chantal Lemire.

She multiplies the tasks, but especially the hours of work to make ends meet. Accounting, orders, inventories, ready-to-eat and customer service, she lists.

To stand out, but above all to ensure the survival of her business, the owner has started a ready-to-eat section. However, she finds it difficult to compete with the attractive products of the big banners.

“I don't believe it. I don't believe it anymore, it's too difficult with commercial products. »

— Chantal Lemire, owner of Sabrijoe Market

The fact remains that some customers are attached to this kind of local service. There is always the possibility of going to the big chains, but it is not the same as the homemade products that I find here, that's for sure, testified Christian Bovet, a client met at the Sabrijoe market.

The Sabrijoe market is located at the intersection of rue Émery-Fontaine and Chemin Saint-Roch Sud.

The Quebec Food Retailers Association believes government intervention could help save small businesses. She intends to be present during the election campaign.

Wouldn't there be a way to help financially, for example by a reduction of municipal taxes or other fiscal measures? That would support them to keep them in those circles. They do not have the capacity to buy a large volume, so the margins are less important. They must be kept in place, said the spokesperson for the Quebec Food Retailers Association, Stéphane Lacasse.

If Chantal Lemire has found a niche to stand out, the competition from the big brands in this niche leaves her unoptimistic when the time comes to pass the torch. Every time we think we have something, they come looking for it. It's quite special.

Based on the report by René-Charles Quirion


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