‘It’s tough’: Loss of grocery store hits Cranberry Portage’s poor and vehicle-less

Few residents have felt the closure of Cranberry Portage’s lone grocery store as much as Lorna Doran.

Family Food Town shut down earlier this year, forcing her and other residents to travel 40 minutes to Flin Flon for most groceries, including some kitchen staples.

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“You’re stuck unless people are kind to you,” said Doran, who is on social assistance and does not own a vehicle.

“I get welfare, and I don’t get that much. If you want to go to The Pas or go to Flin Flon, most people want you to pay. Well, when you only get a certain amount of money, you can’t afford to take money out of your food money and go, and it’s tough.”

Doran, 62, said she has been relying on help from fellow residents to travel to Flin Flon to pick up groceries. She also buys groceries while in the community for medical appointments.

She said she is aware of other residents who have been similarly challenged by the closure.

Unlike Doran, Cranberry Portage resident Angela Sherwood was not a regular at Family Food Town. She used to visit the store on occasion but did most of her grocery shopping in Flin Flon.

“I think the average [resident would] go to Flin Flon and just use [Family Food Town], when it was open, [for times when] ‘I need milk’ or ‘I need an onion’ or something like that, when you’re cooking,” she said.

Still, Sherwood knows the closure has caused difficulties for some of Cranberry Portage’s 572 residents.

“It’s particularly hard for seniors or those people on welfare, because most of them don’t have vehicles and they just can’t get fresh vegetables, fresh meat, like they’d like to,” she said.

Sherwood said a local convenience store and a local restaurant are selling grocery items to help fill the void, but some kitchen staples are no longer available in the community.

Tom Moodie, a long-time Cranberry Portage resident, said the Family Food Town closure has created an inconvenience, especially for those who do not own a vehicle.

“I think it was for a lot of people,” he said when asked whether the community was surprised and concerned by the closure.

Moodie said he personally does his shopping in Flin Flon during visits for medical appointments, though he likes that he can still buy items such as milk and bread in town at the nearby convenience store.

He felt the grocery store closure was a sign of the times. Sherwood agreed.

“I still wish that somebody would open up a store here just so that there’s something fresh [available],” Sherwood added.

Rick Huck, owner of Family Food Town, told The Reminder in January he would close the store due to financial losses and transfer some of the business to his convenience store, Rick’s Quikstop.

“The grocery business is best left for a corporation that can afford to do it,” he said at the time. “The mom and pop store thing is pretty well done.”

Huck added that a combination of population decline in Cranberry Portage and competition from grocers in Flin Flon and The Pas had eaten into business.

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