Cornerstone Convenience Store owner Connie Blanchard-Nielsen is seen at her store in Finch. Thompson Goddard Photo
An integral part of the community
FINCH – Convenience stores are an integral part of a rural community, providing services to customers and supporting local initiatives.
In March 2018, Connie Blanchard-Nielsen purchased Aunt Mary’s Convenience Store at 40 Front Street in Finch.
“I am a country girl at heart and always wanted to run a retail store. Small town communities are like family,” commented Blanchard-Nielsen, who is well known for supporting the local community.
She renamed the business Cornerstone Convenience Store and since then has continued to provide customers the opportunity to purchase groceries and a selection of miscellaneous items.
The store is open seven days a week, except for Christmas and Easter Monday. The hours vary with the store open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and holidays open between 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Since purchasing the store, Blanchard-Nielsen made cosmetic changes to the building. Changes included new flooring and siding and converted the attached garage into a takeout area for chicken and ice cream. She has “refocused products that we carry to be in line with what the community is looking for.”
Customers can purchase home-made breakfast and lunch sandwiches at the store. Grandma’s Express, which provides a selection of fried chicken and sides to customers, and a “full-service ice cream bar” have been re-located to a next-door addition with their own entrance to facilitate customer service.
“I like being my own boss; pride of ownership and serving my community, meeting new people, making a difference in the community” are some of the benefits of sole-proprietorship according to Blanchard- Nielsen.
There are challenges facing those who run a small independent business. These include low profits because the “cost of running an independent retail store is very high,” long work hours, lack of government incentives to assist independent retailers as well as the demands and stress associated with the pandemic. She mentioned it was difficult dealing with COVID-19 regulations, while striving to keep both customers and staff safe.
For those planning to open a small business, she advises them to be prepared for long days and hard work. Flexibility is required to be successful, and you need to be “open to listening to your customers’ needs, rather than what you think they want or need.”
More information on Cornerstone Convenience Store can be found at www.grandmasexpressfinch.com as well as their Facebook pages: CornerStone Convenience Store and Grandmas Express Finch.
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