Out of business

Stephen Roberts
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Store that carried ‘a little bit of everything’ closes after half a century

After more than 50 years in business, Hudson’s Convenience in Pinware has closed.
Tough economic times forced Elsie Hudson to shut the doors of her store at the end of December. Her father-in-law, James Hudson, had started the business in the early 1960s.

Dean Hudson’s son Owen stands in front of Hudson’s Convenience, which closed down last month after being a staple in Pinware for almost 50 years. — Photos courtesy of Dean Hudson

It began life as “Hudson’s Store” in a small section of James’ house. Soon after, he moved it to a separate building where his restaurant was located, and eventually built a new premises in 1978, which stands today.

Elsie Hudson said Corner Brook businessman Ed Casey helped James get the business off the ground. Casey would visit Pinware to salmon fish, and he helped James source dry goods and other products.

Elsie started working at the store in 1975. After “Mr. Hudson” died in 2000, she took it over and changed the name to Hudson’s Convenience.

“A little bit of everything” was the motto on the store’s logo, as it stocked everything from dry goods to beer and cigarettes, and offered a gas station.

Elsie was understandably sad to see it go.

“When Mr. Hudson had it, he had his customers and he had his stuff come in in the fall and he’d have it all come in on the boat,” she recalls.

“He had his basement and that’d be packed full with vegetables and everything else for the winter. And then he didn’t have to pay for it when he got it — we paid as we sold it. But now things are way different. I had freight come in one week and in two weeks it had to be paid for. Regardless if I had that sold out or not, I had to come up with the money to pay the wholesalers.”

Elsie’s son, Dean Hudson, has worked at the store for 25 years. He and his mother were the main employees.

He said a dwindling population and the ease of transportation spelled the demise of the small convenience store.

“When my grandfather owned it, everybody in Pinware shopped in Pinware,” he said.

“I’d say he was the only guy in Pinware who went to Corner Brook. He took orders from people, he went to Corner Brook, he picked it up, he’d bring it back and they’d buy it there. But the people now are on the go too much. Corner Brook is only a weekend ride for people now.

“And there were probably 350 people in Pinware at the time when he had it, and right now there’s less than 100.”

More options for shopping and shrinking populations are making it difficult for many small businesses to thrive in rural communities.

Hudson’s Convenience closing is one more sign of the times.

The Northern Pen

Geographic location: Pinware, Corner Brook

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  • FINTIP
    February 09, 2014 - 11:04

    Ah yes, lovely Pinware - the last stop before facing what was once perhaps the most treacherous piece of road in the entire province. Climbing Pinware Hill along a primitive road carved from billion year granite rock, the drive was beautiful in summer but often a white knuckle experience in winter. A build-up of ice leavings along the jagged precipice to the right banked the road precariously to the left, leaving drivers to fight the inexorable drift of their vehicles toward a shoulder-less, barrier free drop hundreds of feet to the river below. A chance February encounter in the early seventies with an oil tanker just below one of its high peaks left two drivers with the near impossible challenge of finding a place to pass as a bitter wind swept snow down from the rocks above. Agreed - the smaller dilapidated rental with its bare 10,000 mile record of use along the Straits would back two miles down the cliff to a possible point of passage. Along the way, the drivers of both vehicles would stop and pull the studded pick-up tires sideways across the road away from the icy edge. Long harrowed hours after departing Pinware in the mid-day sun, the sight of lights below in historic Red Bay were a welcome sight. Forty years and many millions of dollars later, the winter road challenge is a shadow of its former self. The short summer season still offers tremendous opportunities for wilderness lovers and history buffs alike. Campers at the Pinware River Park can trek the same trails as did the province's earliest humans 9,000 years ago. They can experience the rich boreal forest, wildlife and other natural resources that sustained these Paleons for thousands of years. In less than an hour they can transit pre-history to the relatively modern 16th century bones of the Basques whalers at Red Bay. With the growing appeal of the Labrador Straits for visitors from all over the world, it is unfortunate that places like Pinware have watched their populations decline to as little as a third. Still, the existence of these communities at all is a tribute to the tough breed of Labradorians, like the Hudsons, who managed to carve out a living in one of the world's most challenging, if awe inspiring, environments.

  • gerry
    February 09, 2014 - 10:28

    I remember growing up in Pouch Cove in the 70's: we had at any one time anywhere from 3 to 5 convenience store; also a restaurant takeout(s), games arcade... Now there's one convenience, a small takeout (if still open) and a pharmacy coming into the town...and the population has risen, albeit incrementally...

  • Steve O'Brien
    February 08, 2014 - 10:27

    So sorry to hear about the closing , as my son, I and friends would never pass the store without stopping when salmon fishing each year. Beer , chips, bread and chocolate coated ju-ju's . Always a smile on the people working there. Good Luck in the future.

  • a business man
    February 08, 2014 - 09:38

    “When my grandfather owned it, everybody in Pinware shopped in Pinware" ----> This is it right here. The people have chosen to shop elsewhere and have cut out this store. Good for those residents. Competition has killed this store, whether it be competition by price or selection. Either way, I am happy to see that the customers have voted with their wallets, even though this store is the casuality.

  • Jack
    February 08, 2014 - 08:24

    Due to another store closing in Pinware, people in this town should definitely be concerned as here's why. For Pinware area residents, they will have to travel along very dangerous roads to L'Anse Au Loop, Forteau, or cross the border to Quebec village of Lourdes de Blanc Sablon to get their groceries. In the case of the Pinware to L'Anse Au Loop section of the Trans Labrador Highway, its littered with potholes and ruts which are very hard to navigate, especially during Labrador's harsh winters. Until Pinware gets another large convenience store similar to Earle's or J. L. Joncas, I hope no more stores will close its doors at Pinware, Red Bay, or West St. Modeste.