BATTLERS: Local business owners Criss and Trevor Rowe will keep going despite facing tough competition from a large chain.
BATTLERS: Local business owners Criss and Trevor Rowe will keep going despite facing tough competition from a large chain. Julia Bartrim

Why this Mount Larcom shop is losing up to $1,000 a day

IT'S MORE than just a general store.

Criss Rowe and her partner Trevor have poured their energy, ideas and savings into Mount Larcom News and General Store and they've created a place that gives back to the community on multiple fronts.

Out the front is a free library, inside, shelf space devoted to products of local small business owners - and the Rowes don't take a cut.

But the business has been put under pressure by the reopening of a big service station about five weeks ago.

"We've noticed a $1000 drop per day," Criss said.

The service station, on the Bruce Highway about a kilometre from the Rowes' red and green painted store, kept shorter hours before a 15-month refurbishment. But now it's open 24 hours and the Rowes are feeling it.

Criss opens the shop at 4.30am every morning, seven days a week, but with the service station's maxi-hours she says she's seeing customer levels drop.

"We're the main place for any little extra groceries but we've also noticed a big drop in milk and bread - the daily things," Criss said.

"The first five weeks has been worst than we expected."

But the Rowes are determined to keep their shop open and serving the community.

If things don't improve by the end of the month, they'll cut back hours on weekends to save costs.

"We are hoping next month customers will come back in," Criss said.

The business supports many other local businesses, not just by providing shelf space but by buying local where possible.

During the boom, Criss said she was able to employ five people but the way things are now, she only has one worker on outside the family.

During the boom, Criss and Trevor invested heavily in the store, re-stumping and repainting the building and putting in new lighting, carpet and bench spaces.

They even installed an ATM.

Criss said they can compete with bigger shops if customers give them a chance.

"Just ask us, please," she said, "tell us what you're looking for."

She said she is happy to order in items if customers make specific requests.