West coast businessman finds alternative to powerwall

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Retail/Tobacco

When a part of his customer service went up in smoke, a local businessman decided to get innovative.

With legislation coming down the tubes to ban the tobacco power walls from retail stores last year, Marc Bennett began considering the impact this would have on his customers. With no product visible, he was faced with no way to advertise product and prices - something he felt would be missed by customers.

He immediately began looking into what it would take for him to set up a tobacco shop in the three Marc's Confectionary stores in Corner Brook. He said it took some time, a lot of effort and work, as well as quite a financial investment, but he has acquired the licences for what he said are the only three tobacco shops in this province.

Corner Brook businessman Marc Bennett says powerwall legislation interferes with his ability to advertise tobacco products and prices so that his customers can choose their purchases. He applied for a licence to set up an age-restricted tobacco shop where

Corner Brook -

When a part of his customer service went up in smoke, a local businessman decided to get innovative.

With legislation coming down the tubes to ban the tobacco power walls from retail stores last year, Marc Bennett began considering the impact this would have on his customers. With no product visible, he was faced with no way to advertise product and prices - something he felt would be missed by customers.

He immediately began looking into what it would take for him to set up a tobacco shop in the three Marc's Confectionary stores in Corner Brook. He said it took some time, a lot of effort and work, as well as quite a financial investment, but he has acquired the licences for what he said are the only three tobacco shops in this province.

While tobacco retailers have to keep all tobacco products hidden, Marc's Tobacco Shop is a separate room where everything is displayed. It has been open at the Humber Road location for a couple of weeks. The Country Road location will open soon to be followed by one at the Elizabeth Street store.

"The biggest reason I went this route is for my customers," Bennett said. "Everybody has the same product, but we are known for our quality and our good prices. This was just something that wasn't available to anyone, so I thought it would be a good idea to pursue it."

The tobacco shop is a 19-plus store, where 100 per cent of sales have to be tobacco-related products. It has to have a separate entrance and a separate licence and identity.

"I think it is important for the customers to come in and view the different prices and view the different brands, the different kinds of cigarettes, cartons, pouches, tubes, cigars, cigarillos, all the different kinds," he said. "They need to see what's available, so they can make their choice on what they want."

That's especially true for the "occasion smoker" or those looking to price shop, he said.

He said some customers have voiced their concerns over whether they feel the legislation is necessary or appropriate, but he personally believes it is a positive measure.

"I think it is going to have an impact," he said. "It will achieve the goal of the legislation - to decrease the visibility to minors, which I fully agree with. They should definitely not be exposed to cigarettes when they are going in to buy ice cream. But, there definitely should be something for adults."

Bennett also said the legislation placed a higher demand and pressure on employees, who have to be much more knowledgeable about tobacco products because they are hidden. A retailer is not allowed to show the product before the sale.

A person can also continue to go to Marc's Confectionary and purchase their cigarettes the same as before.

As for whether it will be a wise business investment, only time will tell.

"My main goal is to offer customer service, I try to do that in all my stores," he said. "This was an area that, with the new regulations, where customer service was basically eliminated or lacking ...

"Of course, there is an initial investment, a cost and all that stuff. Hopefully, eventually, that will all be recuperated through some increased sales. I don't expect this to cause any big spike in sales or anything like that, it is for the customers. But, if you have a choice, wouldn't you go here where you can look or go somewhere where you can't?"

Organizations: Tobacco Shop

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Humber Road, Elizabeth Street

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Nasty
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Lets order everything hidden from view. You will be forced to purchase what they toss your way. Freedom of choice is over rated anyway.

    I say buy and use what you want. No one can dictate what anyone decides to spend their own money on. If Government wants to dictate what you can and can not purchase, maybe we should just switch over to a police state today and get it over with. I am sure Harper and Williams would love that.

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Yeah he should be really proud peddling poison and making a living off killing people.

  • Barbara
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Yes The supermarkets do have seperate areas for the purchase of tobacco products but they are not seperate entities and those that I have visited still keep the walls covered . So I bet it is safe to say that they are not licenced as smoke shops. and as a matter of fact I have seen kids with their parents in those areas. So I guess it is safe to say that the supermarkets are just retailers with a seperate area to purchase smokes. Perhaps Smoke Shops would be a better deterent for the younger ones as you would have to show your ID to even get in there.

  • quit and wants to stay
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    this man is no better than a drug dealer!

  • Cassandra
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Just what we need around here... tobacco shops - because health problems are fun!

  • Kent
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I find it amusing that governments allow tobacco to be sold. It kills thousands of people every year, and ruins the health of hundreds of thousands more. Meanwhile, a drug like Celebrex (for arthritus) get hauled of the shelves because a handful of North Americans have had a reaction to it. The hypocrisy is amazing.

  • Seamus
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Lighten up Cassandra, this guys smoke shops are not going to create more smokers. Alcohol destroys brain cells and the liver, is it wrong to have a Bar? Refined sugars cause diabetes and heart disease and kids are allowed in candy stores. If you choose not to smoke thats fine, but smokers have there rights as well. Smoking may kill me, but the gun I put to my head from listening to all you non-smoker activists will kill me faster.

  • Michelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Kent M wonders why the Government allows tobacco to be sold, and that is for one reason. TAX MONEY! and then there are the secondary reasons, like the money drug companies are making trying to keep these smokers alive after the majority of them have contracted a smoking related illness. Personally, I am surprised retailers are made to cover them up if the government will take a loss in profit.. but to make up for that... they can always raise gas prices. (as for the article, good business idea, too bad smoking kills!)

  • JM
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I'm not sure what supermarket chains are out on the west coast, but both Sobey's and Dominion operate separate smoke shops on their premises, with separate entrances outside the stores. Possibly the first independantly operated though, so kudos on that. Boo on the Telegram for not fact checking, or apparently reading the article before print.

  • Fred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    To JM

    It wasn;t a Telegram story. It's a story from Corner Brook. That's why there is a by line in it.

  • Nasty
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Lets order everything hidden from view. You will be forced to purchase what they toss your way. Freedom of choice is over rated anyway.

    I say buy and use what you want. No one can dictate what anyone decides to spend their own money on. If Government wants to dictate what you can and can not purchase, maybe we should just switch over to a police state today and get it over with. I am sure Harper and Williams would love that.

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Yeah he should be really proud peddling poison and making a living off killing people.

  • Barbara
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Yes The supermarkets do have seperate areas for the purchase of tobacco products but they are not seperate entities and those that I have visited still keep the walls covered . So I bet it is safe to say that they are not licenced as smoke shops. and as a matter of fact I have seen kids with their parents in those areas. So I guess it is safe to say that the supermarkets are just retailers with a seperate area to purchase smokes. Perhaps Smoke Shops would be a better deterent for the younger ones as you would have to show your ID to even get in there.

  • quit and wants to stay
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    this man is no better than a drug dealer!

  • Cassandra
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Just what we need around here... tobacco shops - because health problems are fun!

  • Kent
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    I find it amusing that governments allow tobacco to be sold. It kills thousands of people every year, and ruins the health of hundreds of thousands more. Meanwhile, a drug like Celebrex (for arthritus) get hauled of the shelves because a handful of North Americans have had a reaction to it. The hypocrisy is amazing.

  • Seamus
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Lighten up Cassandra, this guys smoke shops are not going to create more smokers. Alcohol destroys brain cells and the liver, is it wrong to have a Bar? Refined sugars cause diabetes and heart disease and kids are allowed in candy stores. If you choose not to smoke thats fine, but smokers have there rights as well. Smoking may kill me, but the gun I put to my head from listening to all you non-smoker activists will kill me faster.

  • Michelle
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Kent M wonders why the Government allows tobacco to be sold, and that is for one reason. TAX MONEY! and then there are the secondary reasons, like the money drug companies are making trying to keep these smokers alive after the majority of them have contracted a smoking related illness. Personally, I am surprised retailers are made to cover them up if the government will take a loss in profit.. but to make up for that... they can always raise gas prices. (as for the article, good business idea, too bad smoking kills!)

  • JM
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    I'm not sure what supermarket chains are out on the west coast, but both Sobey's and Dominion operate separate smoke shops on their premises, with separate entrances outside the stores. Possibly the first independantly operated though, so kudos on that. Boo on the Telegram for not fact checking, or apparently reading the article before print.

  • Fred
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    To JM

    It wasn;t a Telegram story. It's a story from Corner Brook. That's why there is a by line in it.