Glendenning's Canteen reinvents itself to continue serving Big River

Glendennings Canteen in Big River, New Brunswick has reinvented itself in order to stay in business and now offers a place where local residents can buy everything from worms to a wreath of roses.

When the Brunswick Mine closed in 2013, the family knew something had to change

In tiny Big River, a business has learned how to pull double duty to stay alive. 1:56

Glendenning's Canteen in Big River has reinvented itself in order to stay in business and now offers a place where local residents can buy everything from worms to a wreath of roses.

For decades, the family-owned store relied on miners to keep it going, but when the Brunswick Mine closed in 2013, the family knew something had to change.

Two years later, the business is still there, in the same spot it's been for 30 years.

Stephanie Glendenning, manager of Glendennings. (CBC)

Manager Stephanie Glendenning remembers how the store used to be with the zinc mine just down the road and a steady stream of customers passing the store each day.

"We have coffee in the morning," she said. "Mainly it was for the miners when they were going up."

The sale of on-the-go convenience items to miners was the Glendenning's bread and butter.

When the mine closed, the family decided to diversify in a way you might not expect.

"We had to find a way to balance off the business so even though we were losing some business, we could still maintain the status quo," said Glendenning.

That is when the flower shop was introduced. Glendenning says it seems to be busier in the winter, while the convenience side of the shop is busier in the summer.

She says one business actually feeds the other, especially during fishing season.

"A lot of people who buy flowers are men," Glendenning explained. "So when they're on their way upriver, they're like 'hey, you guys have a flower shop,' so I hand them a card and they do end up ordering flowers."

'You just keep going'

Glendenning says adding flowers to the business wasn't brand new for the family. Her grandmother once owned a flower shop, so when they saw a gap in the market, they made their move.

"We had been out of the flower business for I don't know how long, maybe 20 years," she said. "What happened was Superstore closed their flower shop, the mine was closing, and my mom said 'hey, why don't we open a flower shop?'"

It's been over a year now, and Glendenning says the shop is doing well, receiving orders daily.

"You just keep going and you do what you do and you live your day to day and you just hope things get better," she said.

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