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Citizen petition aims to save Elmira’s No Frills store

Business will continue at the 232 Arthur St. location until a buyer is found. [Will Sloan / The Observer]

Elmira’s No Frills is to be sold, but if Brian McHugh has his way, it won’t go without a fight.

Brian McHugh hopes to rally support for the grocery store at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. His petition currently has more than 100 signatures.[Will Sloan / The Observer]
Brian McHugh hopes to rally support for the grocery store at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. His petition currently has more than 100 signatures. [Will Sloan / The Observer]
The owner of Brian’s Photo at 57 Arthur St. S. has launched a petition to save the store, asking the federal Competition Bureau to reverse its decision.

“Enough people were upset about this that somebody needed to do something,” said McHugh. “Some people are saying, ‘It’s not going to help anyway,’ but I think we need to do something.

“It’s not very democratic – somebody a great distance from here is making a decision that affects Elmira, and this person’s probably never been in Elmira. They don’t understand the situation we have here, especially with the Mennonites that have to come horse-and-buggy from quite a distance.”

From last Saturday to Wednesday, McHugh’s petition has accumulated more than 100 signatures. He hopes to gather more during the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival and via an online petition that is still in the works. He also encourages people to contact their local MP and MPP.

The No Frills chain defines itself by its low prices, but McHugh argues that the store itself has become part of the fabric of the community. “I think Paul and Adele really work hard at servicing their customers and making them happy,” he said of the store’s operators.

“They come from miles around to shop at that store. People are telling me that they live in Kitchener and they have a No Frills there, but they come to Paul and Adele’s. It’s the same story from Guelph. They say that Paul and Adele really look after their customers, with good service and what you’d expect from a place where you’re shopping.”

The sale was announced last month when Loblaws Companies Ltd. purchased Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation for $12.4 billion; communities with both a Shoppers and No Frills outlet would see one of the outlets shuttered. While approved by the Competition Bureau, some have claimed that the ruling instead removes competition from Elmira’s grocery sector, with Foodland becoming the sole major grocer.

Elmira has some other grocery options aside from Foodland, with smaller selections at the downtown Shoppers and dollar stores. McHugh believes that none of these make up for the loss of No Frills.

“They [Elmirans] do not want another grocery chain in town – they want Paul and Adele’s No Frills, and that’s it.”

He added, “I want to get thousands of signatures so it will impress somebody who has the power to do something about it. We’ve got to push the right buttons and talk to the right people, because we need to overturn this decision.”

Business will continue at the Arthur Street No Frills until a buyer is found. The divestment process is expected to take several months.

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