Sparwood’s Express Mart, located in Centennial Square, will soon be closing its doors, after 36 years of serving the community.
The Elk Valley Thrift Shop will be moving into the space, a ~2500 square-foot upgrade compared to their current location.
Cal and Norma McDougall opened shop in June of 1981, and called it Red Rooster Convenience Store. They operated this themselves for almost 30 years. They sold the business in 2010, but maintained partnership of the building alongside the new business owner, Sonny Goel.
“There’s 35 years of history in there,” said Cal.
As the McDougalls were nearing retirement, they approached Goel regarding the sale of the the entire building to the Thrift Shop, to which he agreed.
“They’re going to have a bright, new… great location for them,” said Cal.
Express Mart’s last day is August 26, and the Thrift Shop will take possession September 1. They plan to move in sometime in October.
Competition had been a factor for the convenience store ever since the introduction of food to gas stations, and this, alongside the fluctuation of coal prices, has caused business to slow down.
Cal said his experience owning the business for as long as he did, was good.
In the early years of Express Mart, Overwaitea was closed on Sundays, making this the busiest day for Express Mart. Overwaitea also closed at 6 p.m., and Express Mart was open from 7 a.m. until midnight.
After seeing many workers go to work at 5:30 a.m., the owners of Express Mart decided to open at 5 a.m.
“It was a real good business for a long time,” said Cal. “We worked hard at public relations, to keep the customers happy.”
Cal considers this the end of an era in the community.
“You hate to see it go, but I think it’s going to be an excellent location for the Thrift Store,” he said. “And they do so much good stuff for our community, that I think it’s going to be a real positive when it’s all said and done.”