Starbuck residents can buy a freshly-baked loaf of bread, rent a DVD and pick up their mail at Dawn Til Dusk Convenience Store, but it provides more than just material goods — it keeps the town’s sense of community alive.
This small-town spirit is evident in the store’s bulletin board, with local event notices posted, the collection box for the local improvement committee on the counter, and owners Maggie and Jack Crompton’s willingness to promote local events by advertising and selling tickets. Maggie even looks after bookings for the Starbuck Hall.
The couple bought the business 14 years ago after ownership of Starbuck’s Manitoba Pool elevator changed and Jack opted for early retirement. Since that time, they’ve added a small coffee shop to the back of the building on Main Street.
Maggie said they closed the coffee shop a few years ago as there wasn’t enough business to be able to afford to pay staff. "I couldn’t run it on my own," she said, adding that every time she would leave the front of the store to go to the back area, a customer would come in and need help.
"It was a good way to get customers in," she joked.
Maggie would like to renovate the space and open it as a tearoom.
While this Canada Post outlet lacks the sophistication of an urban location, with a curtain serving as a screen for the mailboxes in the store’s lobby, it allows local residents to use Xpress Post service and mail letters and parcels without having to drive the approximately 50 kilometres to the closest Winnipeg outlet.
"It’s surprising that there’s still as much mail as there is," Maggie said, adding that
online purchases are often shipped by regular mail, which helps keep the volume up.
Jack has a contract with Canada Post to deliver mail in the countryside around Starbuck three days a week.
"The latest thing I’ve been doing is my free shelf," Maggie said. This consists of a shelving unit in the lobby where people can take or leave clothing, books and small household items.
After getting her mail, one customer decided that a small plaid raincoat was the right size for a friend’s granddaughter.
A section of the store contains shelves of DVDs. Despite the availability of cable and online video service, local residents still rent and buy DVDs, Maggie said.
If over 18, they can also buy imported beer, wine or liquor to drink while watching a movie. Asked which type of alcoholic beverage sells best, Maggie couldn’t name just one, but said some people have their favourites so she tries to keep those in stock.
If you come into the store mid-morning, you can smell the homemade bread and buns she bakes daily. They are popular with people who stop in on their way home for dinner.
As well as cutting keys and selling lottery tickets and bottled water, the Cromptons’ store has a small selection of canned goods and household items.
"I call it ‘Maggie’s Pantry’," she laughed.
The store is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.