Mark Nelson

Sparwood Tim Hortons opens to eager customers

On Dec. 11, the much anticipated Tim Hortons in Sparwood opened its doors for the first day of operation.

On Dec. 11, the much anticipated Tim Hortons in Sparwood opened its doors for the first day of operation. Mark Nelson, owner of the new location, reported that the first day was busy, and it hasn’t really slowed down since then.

“The opening weekend was very busy. We had a hard time keeping up. It’s kind of leveled off a little bit now, but for a new location, this one has been the busiest location for daily sales so far for any of the other two that I have ever opened,” he told The Free Press.

Nelson and his wife are the owners of four Tim Hortons locations. They opened their first one in Pincher Creek, Alta. about five years ago and their second in Fort McLeod after that. Last year, they purchased the Blairmore locations. When it came time to find owners for the Sparwood locations, the Nelsons were a natural choice.

“To be honest, Tim Hortons has been working on opening one here for quite some time. Basically, they would have done it with or without me but, being closer to it, and with another location down they road, they decided to offer it to us,” he said.

With the exception of the store manager, Nelson has hired local residents.

“The initial opening of Tim Hortons is very exciting, so we usually have a good turn out for the opening crew and staff,” said Nelson. “We are just about full on staff. Training is very hard because there is over 30 new people and local staff. Most of them have no experience at all. But they are catching on very quick. I am very happy with them so far.”

Thus far, the Sparwood location has been opened 24-hours a day, and Nelson has been surprised with how the night shifts have gone.

“Hopefully we keep it like that. It’s been busy overnight. I’ve been really surprised by that.”

The biggest hurtle to currently overcome is the daily demand for doughnuts. The store isn’t able to keep up with the amount of doughnuts ordered, which is putting stress on the baking staff, most of whom are new.

“Doughnuts are going faster than we can make them. We have adjusted our orders accordingly now, but our bakers are new and they are struggling to handle that, which is completely expected,” said Nelson. “I’m actually working some night shifts tonight and tomorrow night with the bakers to figure out how to meet the demand. I’m getting a lot of big doughnut orders early in the morning and it’s hard. By about 6 a.m. the showcase is looking pretty empty because most of the doughnuts are spoken for before we even get our initial bake finished. It’s kind of cool, but at the same time, it’s kind of terrifying. If you don’t have doughnuts or anything in your showcase and you can’t sell anything, people get pretty upset by that.”

Nelson added that he has full confidence in his new employees and says that the small hiccups will likely sort themselves out within three weeks.