By Mervin Brass

Coop

Lea Ann Stevenson says the Borderland Coop had lots of customers during the summer games. Photo credit: Treaty 4 News.

The sudden First Nation population explosion in the Whitewood – Broadview area has caught grocery stores and gas stations off guard with shortages of fuel, water, food and ice.

It’s estimated there are about 5,000 athletes, parents, coaches and fans attending the First Nations Summer Games on the Ochapowace Nation this week.

The Borderland Coop in Whitewood found itself unprepared for the influx of customers.

“Lots of people coming in everyday for water, ice, fruit and stuff for their participating athletes,” says store manager Lea Ann Stevenson. “We’ve gone steady. We had a hard time keeping up. We weren’t prepared for the amount of business we’re getting.”

Stevenson wishes they would have been better prepared but even stores that anticipated the increased demand for products found it overwhelming.

Gas bar subway

The lineup at the Subway in Whitewood starts at 7 am until closing during the games. Photo credit: Treaty 4 News.

“I thought I was prepared too, says Patrick Dubois, the co-owner of the Esso gas station and Subway Restaurant in Whitewood. “I anticipated overstocking my freezers and stuff but not this much, this is double what I thought, I can’t say anything negative about it, it’s great.”

Dubois doubled up his staff to work the 18 hour days.

And that’s something L. J.s Gas Bar has had to do, too.

The gas station is right in the middle of all the action during the games located a couple hundred yards from the main dining room in the hockey arena and across the road from the track and field venue.

“There’s no way to prepare for this,” says Geraldine Bear, one of the store’s partners. “Our suppliers were our biggest stress because they weren’t prepared for us.”

She says some suppliers tried to resupply everyday but couldn’t keep up to the demand.

Bear says the only other event that can be compared to the games is the annual powwow.

She says the powwow is only a fifth the size of the games.

“The increased bottom line may help us fix up something we’ve always wanted to do,” says Bear. “For example upgrade those gas pumps in the front.”

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