New location, new challenge, new hope

CARP – Owners August Guo and Cathy Xu have a new location, a new name, even new colours, but are proud to bring the same friendly service to the Carp Foodliner convenience store.

Seven years ago, Gouo had the opportunity to come to Carp and take over the long-serving convenience store, Faith’s Foodliner. It is the only convenience store in the Carp area.

Guo, who came to Canada from China in 2001, had never been a business owner. He was an electrical and electronic engineer and red seal industrial electrician in China for 20 years.

“I had done my best to run the store in the old place, but the sales went down and the rental fees went up every year,” Guo told West Carleton Online from his new location at 3744 Carp Rd. on Tuesday, Aug. 20. “I had almost given up running the store, but the people in Carp are all very nice. They all have tried their best to give me help even though they do not have too much money.”

Guo, in his broken English recounts the story of “one senior lady came to my store one day and told me that she really didn’t need anything, but she bought about $200 in that time just because she wanted to support me and keep me in the small village.”

Guo has enjoyed his time in Carp, thanks to his friendly neighbours, and understands the importance of being able to provide supplies right in the heart of the small community.

“I believe Carp needs a store for emergencies or just in case somebody forgets to buy something on the way home from work,” he said. “I believe it’s been pretty good. All our loyal customers, they’re our friends. So many people have come in to ask us how we’re doing. Our relationship with our customers is just like friends.”

But it just wasn’t working in the old location.

“If I stayed in the old location, I don’t think I would have survived,” he said. “We don’t need much money. Just enough for our life. I just want to make enough to make Kathy and me happy and our customers.”

So, Guo checked out his options.

“I contacted the owner of 3744 Carp Rd. to tell them I wanted to move my store to their house last Christmas,” he said. “The owner was very happy to hear this and told me they will only sell their house to me.”

Things started to fall in to place with a generous agreement with the bank.

“The banker gave me big help too,” he said. “We didn’t have a down payment. They financed 90 per cent and gave us a line of credit. Community support helped us get here.”

Guo and Xu closed Faith’s Foodliner on April 1 and got to work on the new place practically across the street. The bright colours of their new place have been a popular topic of discussion in Carp.

“I took two weeks to do the research,” Guo said. “I chose the positive red as the outside color of wall and confident yellow for the roof. I changed the name from Faith’s Foodliner To Carp Foodliner. One of my customers designed the big sign for me for free. I believe the store in Carp belongs to every resident in Carp.”

They opened the new store just two-and-a-half months later.

“We moved in June 15,” Guo said. “Just me and my wife. So many people said that was unbelievable. Me and my wife are very happy.”

Guo says it will be a challenge moving forward, staying on top of his debt in an industry that has faced incredible challenges in the era of Internet shopping and the big box stores, but it is one he will face head on with a smile on his face.

“I believe everybody will meet some hard situations in their life,” Guo said. “We need positivity and confidence no matter how hard the challenges are in our life. This year will still be tough, but I think next year will be good. I hope I can run a very nice store in Carp. All the people in Carp are very nice. They deserve it.”