For a Fraser Lake business owner, it was a shock just to be nominated, let alone being named top five across B.C. for community impact.
This winter, Fraser Lake Dollar Store and Corner Store is one of the five Best Community Impact finalists announced for the 14th Annual Small Business BC Awards.
Along with companies named in nine other categories — Premier’s people’s choice, best apprentice training, best company, best concept, best employer, best immigrant entrepreneur, best innovation, best international trade, and best marketer — the Fraser Lake business pitched to a Dragons’ Den-style panel of business experts in Vancouver this February; winners will be announced on Feb. 23.
Store owners Bobby and Lori Hurry opened the food essentials store 10 weeks after SuperValu, Fraser Lake’s only grocery store, shut its doors last June.
With his work for his other business Hurry Help Landscaping that takes place also in Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, and Fort St. James, Bobby didn’t notice that SuperValu was closed until one day, a Fraser Lake resident passing by said he’s on his way to get a bowl of soup in a restaurant because that’s the one of the few options available.
“Then I went into the house and said to Lori, ‘There’s something we got to do,’” Bobby said. “Most of us take things for granted in life, that we have the means to travel for groceries. This is when the town needed it the most, and someone needed to step up. Too many people who can’t go to the bigger communities to buy food.
“I couldn’t have done it without the community support we had from landscaping, and that’s why we did it — paying it forward.”
The Hurrys opened their landscaping business in 2007 when the couple moved from the Kootenay region to Fraser Lake with their four children. A snow storm during their first winter led to falling trees and branches that crushed buildings, and as he went around town to help community members, the company was born. The couple also opened a dollar store that eventually closed, as Lori suffered from medical concerns that needed attention in Vancouver. His brother with his family of four children moved to the area a year later to assist.
“It was the best move our family made,” Bobby said. “We were faced with school closure in the following year in the rural area, and I didn’t want to raise our boys in the big cities.”
Now, the corner store employs four employees that previously worked with SuperValu and three part-time staff, and the landscaping business hires up to eight people in summer and about three during the winter.