One of my first paying jobs in the 1980s was working at the Red Rooster convenience store on Highway 97 in Winfield, north of Kelowna.
My shifts were spent ringing up pop, snacks, smokes, lottery tickets and slushies (just like Slurpees but 7-Eleven owns that name).
The Red Roosters are long gone, same with the Mr. G’s stores that used to be scattered all around Prince George. What’s left are a handful of independents and the once ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores. This year, however, 7-Eleven permanently closed its Queensway and 20th Avenue locations.
Crime, as well as finding and keeping staff, were certainly factors in both their closures but there are bigger factors at play, too.
The business model for convenience stores big and small was built upon grocery stores only being open eight hours a day, six days a week and closed Sundays. Out of milk or eggs on Saturday night? Run to the convenience store.
Now bigger supermarkets are open far longer each day with far more product at cheaper prices, along with big-box warehouse stores.
The late hours for a convenience store were also handy for late night and early morning coffee and snacks, either at the end of an evening out partying with pals or getting up on not enough sleep the next morning and grabbing a coffee and a sandwich on the way to work.
That was before fast food outlets opened drive thru lanes and many of those are now open 24 hours.
More lottery ticket outlets and expanded gambling options in person and online.
Slurpees? Most teenagers in need of a sugar fix would rather have a Frappuccino from Starbucks or an Iced Cap from Timmies.
Throw in Door Dash and other home delivery options for restaurant dining at home and suddenly the wieners spinning on stainless steel rotisseries, waiting to become hot dogs, and the chicken, meatballs and potato wedges tanning themselves under heat lamps in search of hungry customers are less appealing.
There are still convenience stores in Prince George and there likely always will be some, offering unique products and services along with the old-school pit-stop pickups.
But the glory days where they were the only game in town from dusk till dawn are long past.
Neil Godbout is the editor-in-chief of the Prince George Citizen.