Gord Johnston may call himself “the new kid on the block” but the newest partner at the Fairway Store in Emo is anything but new to the grocery and meat business.
Johnston, who officially became part-owner of Fairway on Jan. 16, has been working in grocery stores since he was eight years old, holding his first job in Fort Frances at the now defunct Riteway.
Since then, he never really wanted to leave the business.
“I’ve always wanted a grocery store,” Johnston said, noting he’s had experience in just about every aspect of the business.
Johnston originally was hired as one of Fairway’s employees a couple of years ago. Co-owner Kent Ogden said the idea of bringing on another owner to manage things with him and Brian Reid started out as “just a joke,” between the three of them.
Then the joke became a serious notion.
“It didn’t seem like a bad idea," Reid said. "He was interested in it and it splits things up a bit. There’s lots of work to do in a small business like this.”
“It just happened," Johnston said. "I had some money, myself, and some property, and then I talked to the bank. And it took off from there.”
The key to running a successful business is getting along with those you work with, Johnston noted. Although he’s had the chance to partner up with other businesses in the past, he said the work environment wasn’t right until this one.
“Kent and Brian are good to work with," he stressed. "We all have the same ideas, and everybody’s open and communication is great.”
Along with the new name on the ledger, Fairway also may be undergoing some physical changes in the near future. Ogden said the three of them have talked about several renovation projects, the most important being a new roof on the store.
“There will probably be some new equipment and it will look different on the inside,” he noted, though adding that nothing is finalized yet.
“With our gas pumps, we’re talking about a small convenience store,” Johnston continued, noting most gas stations in Emo close around 6 p.m.
“We’ll see what business will be,” he added.
Meanwhile, the fact he’s now a store owner hasn’t quite sunk in yet, Johnston claimed. But he’s also confident he’ll get used to the idea fairly quickly, especially in Emo.
“It’s just a great little town," he said. "You get along with everybody. It’s very personable out there.”