Eugene’s General Store reopens in Tignish

Carter Morrissey stands inside the temporary location for Eugene’s General Store in Tignish. The original location for the store, one of the oldest standing buildings in the town, burned down unexpectedly six weeks ago leaving the landscape of Church Street forever changed.   Jillian Trainor photo  

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Eugene’s General Store is once again open in Tignish after it was destroyed by a fire six weeks ago.

The store officially re-opened on Nov. 8 inside the building that houses the business’ drive thru.

There was a bit of work involved in getting things up and running, with carpenters, plumbers, and electricians working hard for about three weeks to get everything ready. Five walls in the building were taken down, which used to feature offices and some small storage areas, new cupboards had to be put up, along with coolers, and storage shelves. 

“We don’t have our meat display case and a walk in cooler, so our storage for those types of things are very minimum, which is horrible, but we’re doing the best we can,” said owner Carter Morrissey, “We’ve got a couple of fridges in there, and the customers just have to ask for what they want instead of seeing it first. It sucks, but it’s the best we can do right now.”

Outside, the drive thru was busy as cars lined up to get their morning coffee. Inside, customers were lining up to pay for goods, while a radio behind the register softly played music. One person shook Mr Morrissey’s hand, congratulating him on the re-opening of the store.

The previous location for Eugene’s was just in front of the drive thru building. Built in 1938, it was one of the oldest standing buildings in the town.

“It was a big business around Tignish,” said Ricky Brennan. “Eugene’s was always a place to meet, and when it burned it was well missed.”

Dave McKenna agreed.

“It’s really affected the community, especially on the weekends and the evenings when the other stores are closed,” he said. “It was always a hub here for the community, and it’s a gathering spot. It’s a landmark. With the building gone, it’s a totally different look (on Church Street).”

Mr Morrissey said building a new store in a commercial zone in the town isn’t as easy as people might think.

While the new version of the store is open, Mr Morrissey admitted it’s been a challenging six weeks. The temporary location isn’t on the exact same site as the former store, it’s about 40 feet back. Because things are being hooked up to the new location, rules, regulations, and acts that weren’t in place when Eugene’s was originally built are now coming into play.

“Besides trying not to pull every hair out of my head? It’s been a serious learning curve that I never thought I would have to go through,” he said. “There were times in the last five or six weeks I was either stuck in my own head, or didn’t know if I just wanted to do something completely, totally different.”

On Mr Morrissey’s computer, an image file is open, showing a building. It’s a basic drawing of what the new Eugene’s might look like eventually.

He said there’s a lot to learn, but he’s going to keep learning and keep doing what it takes to get that store open.

“I’ve still got a million things on my to do list before I get there,” he said. “It’s great to have the staff and myself get back to a normal routine, and the community as well, give everybody their store back, but I still have a lot to do.”

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