TOLEDO - Kitley Convenience & Service Centre is a happy, go-to place with an ever-growing army of fans.
Lynn Kerr is the powerhouse behind this thriving business. After 31 years at the till and her unwavering support of her customers, Lynn is a rural convenience store legend.
"You just have to keep adding that little bit of extra," says Lynn, who bought the business at the amazingly young age of 20 with a loan from her dad.
I've never looked back," says Lynn, who was raised on a farm just down the road. "I pretty much grew up here at the store. When I first bought it, I didn't know enough to be afraid of running a business."
Thankfully, she credits a strong circle of advisers, family and friends with helping her through the early years. "I was surrounded by good people - that and I was willing to put in lots of hours."
Lynn feels people come back for her tried-and-true products and best practices as well as new products and services. About 20 years ago, she added a deli counter and later introduced pizza Thursdays to Saturdays. Customers come for the full-service MacEwen gas and diesel, lottery tickets, great coffee, breakfast sandwiches, subs, burgers and hot dogs as well as grocery items.
The newest addition is a LCBO Convenience Outlet, which has its own entrance. This addition, now up and running, has been a goal of Lynn's for some time. Her husband, Peter, and community members have helped paint, rearrange and renovate the building.
"I feel really excited coming to work. We've put a lot of time and work into it. It's something brand new and exciting," Lynn says.
More renovations are planned. A breakfast/lunch counter with seating will be placed by the main store window where many loyal customers already gather. Some of them also volunteer to help out because they enjoy spending time at the store, says Lynn.
"That's when you realize how lucky you are to have people around you so willing to help," she says. One of those customers is Jerome Healey.
"It's a vital part of this small, tight-knit community," says Jerome, who has been coming to the store for decades. Lynn is also known for employing hundreds of locals, including students, over the years. It's another way Lynn feels she is giving back to the community. It's part of providing convenience in a rural setting where people like to live, she says. "We're a community store."
Learn more about Kitley Convenience & Service Centre on the
. The centre is located at 74 Main Street, Toledo, at the crossroads of County Road 1 and County Road 8. Call them at 613-275-2834.