Residents in Okanagan Falls are reeling following the official announcement that the IGA store is closing its doors on Sept. 10, leaving the small community without its only supermarket.
People will definitely miss the store once it’s gone.
Sadly, the people of Okanagan Falls have nobody to blame but themselves. In business, it’s use it or lose it and obviously not enough people were utilizing the services of this friendly, little store.
Too many people used the store for emergencies only (“We’re out of butter”), instead of doing their regular shopping there.
A store — especially one in a small community — can’t survive when people are doing the bulk of their shopping at Costco in Kelowna or the nearby Walmart store in Penticton.
IGA created jobs in Okanagan Falls, which has been hit hard, first with Weyerhaeuser pulling out and, most recently, the cancellation of a $125-million cannabis facility.
People used to enjoy being served by cashiers and staff who knew their name or at least recognized their face.
The irony is, who do these same Walmart shoppers go to see when they want a donation for a community event, local team or school function?
The IGA store.
This issue isn’t unique and certainly not restricted to Okanagan Falls. The same can be said of the local convenience store in small hamlets or remote areas. Or the Nesters Market in the Bernard/Gordon neighbourhood. These smaller stores won’t survive if people don’t support them.
Some argue due to the high cost of living, they’re forced to shop at the major chains. In some cases that’s true. (Nobody ever considers the price of gasoline when shopping out of town.) But, there are many items identical in price in the big or small stores.
If you can’t afford to shop at the little guy, at least buy your lottery tickets, tobacco and newspapers there.
Regional district director Ron Obirek is cautiously optimistic another operator could come to town.
If it happens, hopefully the locals will shop there.
James Miller is managing editor of The Kelowna Daily Courier.