The owner of one of Rankin Inlet’s most popular stores is turning out the lights for the final time and heading off to enjoy his retirement years.
Ron Roach was part of the ownership group to launch Kativik — a general store on one side and a hardware store on the other — in December 1999.
The group included Howard and Joyce Green, Shawn Maley and his then-wife Chantal, and Roach and his then-wife Goretti. Over the years Roach bought out Shawn, Chantal and Howard. The shareholders at the store’s closure were Roach, Joyce Green and his daughter, Jody Kusugak.
Roach said candidly that he knew it was time to retire when, after almost 40 years in the industry, he found he had no patience remaining to deal properly with customers or little else for that matter.
He said he was really taken aback about how many people were saddened by the news of Kativik’s closure.
“The other big thing in my decision was all this Covid and having to wear masks in the store. I just grew so sick of it all and knew it’s time for me to go,” said Roach.
“I was surprised by how many positive comments were made about the store. I honestly didn’t think the store was as well liked as it was and would be missed a lot more than I ever thought it would be.
“It was nice to see the people saying thank you and stuff like that. It was very, very nice.”
Roach said you do have to pick and choose who you sponsor in town when you run a small business, but you have to sponsor all the major events that happen in Rankin Inlet.
He said sometimes it can get a little overwhelming when you have every single group coming to you for penny sales and everything else, but you still donated to them.
“It’s hard to say yes to one and no to the other so I wouldn’t do that because I don’t show favouritism.
“The No. 1 challenge I always faced with the store was staffing, especially when it came to the evening shift. The day shift was always a walk in the park, but evenings and weekends were always the two hardest and a challenge to have staffed.
“The biggest things to remember about running your own business in Rankin are to make sure you get your name out there and sponsor the groups and major events. The more you do for the community, the more it turns around and come back to you.
“You have to support your community.”
Roach said he always found the people in the community to be loyal to his store but he found as the more older people left corporate positions or the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) and Nunavut Tunngavik Corp. (NTI), the support from government, KIA and NTI was virtually non existent.
He said they used to support the store all the time but that came to an end with the changing of the guard.
“With the new, young change in management, and I have no idea why, they would not support small local businesses.
“You’d see them shopping at the Northern all the time and they’d order all their products from down south on Nunavut Day.
“There were two government departments here, I won’t say which two, that have supported this store from day one and they’ve been very, very good to us.
“But to try and get into the other ones, no it was virtually impossible.”
Roach said he has no regrets whatsoever while leaving Rankin Inlet.
He spent 15 years coaching hockey in Rankin and 20 years involved with minor hockey and said there are no other sports that have come close to having the huge economic impact hockey has had to his store.
“The impact has been just mindboggling. On a typical weekend I’d typically do $30,0000 to $35,000 in sales, while during a hockey tournament weekend I’d do up to $75,000.
“People here love their hockey and the fans here love to go watch it.
“It’s a great community and a great place to live.”