General stores and taverns are landmark businesses in many villages. Unfortunately, as of September 2, St-Eugène lost both its store and the tavern.
Gerry Leroux and Sylvie Rozon have owned Marché St-Eugène for 11 years. Leroux had owned a gas station in Vankleek Hill, and Rozon worked at the former PPG plant in Hawkesbury before they bought the business from Yves and Julie Gamache. A general store has operated at the same location for at least a century.
Leroux and Rozon say they have become tired as a result of the demands of owning and operating the store. They both want to take things a bit easier after each working 90-hour weeks for more than a decade. Closing up shop has nothing to do with a lack of business. The store was busy. While The Review was there on the afternoon of August 28, approximately 10 customers passed through buying everything from sandwiches to cigarettes. Leroux periodically sliced cold cuts for customers at the deli counter.
The shop was also an OLG lottery outlet, LCBO agency liquor store and a retail partner with The Beer Store.
A restaurant lunch counter occupies one wall of the store. Leroux and Rozon installed it four years ago but ended up shutting it down because of the extra work involved.
Leroux said they have always tried to sell a range of merchandise for St-Eugène residents who could not get to Hawkesbury, Vankleek Hill, or Rigaud easily.
Despite the hard work, Leroux and Rozon have thoroughly enjoyed owning and operating the store. Rozon said the people were the best part.
“It was serving people, meeting people, being part of this little town,” she said.
The customers are also going to miss the only grocery store in the village.
“They’re very, very sad, but they understand,” said Rozon.
The business and building it is in are for sale. It includes living quarters on the second storey. Leroux and Rozon have been trying to sell it for four years. Some people have shown interest, but they wanted the couple to finance the purchase, which they are not interested in doing.
“Be ready to work, but they’ll have fun,” was Rozon’s advice for anyone interested in owning a small-town general store.
Marché St-Eugène is listed for sale with Royal LePage Performance Realty in Hawkesbury.
Next door at Le Shooter Resto Bar, owner Gérald Côté is no longer serving drinks and like the store, it closed on August 30.
The retired Canadian Pacific Railway employee bought the bar a year ago. Like many small-town taverns, Le Shooter started out as a hotel more than a century ago and became just a bar in recent years. A heart condition earlier this year that put Côté in the hospital led to reduced hours at the tavern, and he has decided to close and sell the business because of his health.
Côté said the tavern was always busy and had regular customers. Thursday night spaghetti, and Friday night steak specials were popular.
Côté said he has not yet been contacted by any prospective buyers.
Le Shooter Resto Bar is listed for sale with EXIT Realty Matrix in Hawkesbury.