Although the closure of Super Valu stores in Fraser Lake and Houston has improved sales in some businesses in Burns Lake, Houston residents are not as content.
Lakes District News recently spoke with several business owners and community members in Houston about the closure of Super Valu and how the municipality has responded since. Many expressed frustration.
Super Valu, which served Houston residents for over 40 years and was employing 27 people, closed its doors last month. Houston residents now have to drive approximately 45 minutes – to Smithers or Burns Lake – to find a comparable grocery store.
A Houston resident, who asked not to be identified, said she’s seen little to no communication from Houston council since the closure of Super Value.
“We heard nothing from them [council]; we are all in the dark,” she said. “I don’t think anybody is really doing anything about it; there’s no talk, everybody just went with the flow.”
Since community members don’t know if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, many people are finding information through rumours.
“It’s frustrating,” she said. “This town has gone backwards so far; years back we had a lot of shopping and we’re just going backwards.”
Since the closure of Super Valu, the two smaller grocery stores – Houston Food Market and the North Country Market – have stepped up and are now carrying more stock.
However, many residents have told Lakes District News that some of their prices are too high and there’s not enough stock of some essential items.
Since going out of town to shop is also a costly option, residents have been using Facebook to notify other community members of when they go out of town to shop, offering to pick up groceries for others. However, since many seniors have no access to Facebook, they are often left out.
Houston Mayor Shane Brienen said town council realizes that people are frustrated.
“We really cannot say enough about how much we do appreciate that the two existing stores and roadside vendors have stepped up and are trying to fill the gaps the best they can,” said Brienen. “We continue to have a lot of interest from grocery chains and independent grocers.”
“Council has been, and continues to work towards getting someone in the space that was previously occupied by Super Valu,” he continued. “We know this is not going as fast as residents would like but we are making progress and we will get a store.”