The long-awaited Great Canadian Dollar Store opened in Chemainus Wednesday.
“It has been a while,” said assistant manager Christa Howard, a Chemainus resident. “I guess it’s been two years in the making. Everything kind of got put on hold.”
As much as it’s been a long time coming, the doors of the store opened suddenly.
“We kind of just opened,” noted Howard. “We got the OK from the municipality and we just turned everything on. It was smokin’ busy (Wednesday). It was fantastic.”
There are seven people on staff at the store, including Howard, with Jon Smith as the manager.
The Chemainus Village Square store is owned by Cindi and Dave Key, who have owned the Great Canadian Dollar Store in Ladysmith’s Coronation Square for 25 years. They are the longest-serving original owners and were the seventh into the Great Canadian franchise at its outset.
After a previous dollar store in Chemainus closed, “we’ve been approached by several people to open one in Chemainus,” said Cindi Key.
In 2019, they decided to move forward but several factors delayed the plans, with COVID only compounding the issue.
“Chemainus has just been great,” said Key. “Unfortunately, we were later opening than we hoped. We ran across a few stumbling blocks.
“We started actually a couple of years ago. The liquor store had to be moved so we would have a back door.”
Now that the time has finally arrived, Key is as relieved as anyone. “It’s been really great,” she confided. “Chemainus has been waiting for it for a while.”
There’s always a certain misconception about dollar stores for many people. For one, every item in the store doesn’t sell for a dollar.
“We’re not the typical dollar store,” Key explained. “We bring in items that are better quality than just a dollar and still at at great price.”
The Chemainus store is actually much larger than Ladysmith’s, with about 4,500 square feet of retail space compared to 2,700.
“We left room in it for growth,” Key indicated. “You tend to fill it up quickly. We want to keep it a clean, open store.”
A wide variety of items is available.
“We’ve got a great craft section in this one,” Key noted. “It’s quite large. Being bigger than the Ladysmith store, we can carry more.”
Howard had previously worked as manager of a hair salon in Nanaimo, a business especially affected by COVID.
“I had been looking for something,” she said. “With COVID, my other job was part-time. This happened to pop up and it worked out nicely.
“I will be managing the people and helping with ordering and inventory.”
With COVID, a grand opening isn’t in the works, but people can expect specials on a regular basis.
The store is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with closing on Sundays a half hour earlier at 5:30 p.m.