Faroites fear empty shelves

Faro is about to lose its two grocery stores, but the mayor remains as cool as a cucumber. “It isn’t a feeling of despair, it’s…

Faro is about to lose its two grocery stores, but the mayor remains as cool as a cucumber.

“It isn’t a feeling of despair, it’s just concern about what’s happening and I am positive that something will come up and it will work out the way it’s supposed to,” said mayor Michelle Vainio.

“We just don’t know what that is yet.

“We want answers for our community and we don’t have them and that’s the tough part, but Faro will prevail. It always does.

“We’re that little community that always makes it through somehow or another.”

The owners of the Discovery Store in Faro have everything, including the business, up for sale, said Vainio.

She speculates the owner (who could not be reached for comment) wants to retire. He is 65.

Recently, the business has stopped stocking its shelves to capacity and has completely stopped bringing in fresh food, said Vainio.

The town’s second store, Klondike Dreams, is closing because of an illness in the family, said Vainio.

The owners of Klondike Dreams, who could not be reached for comment, currently drive into Whitehorse once a week to shop at Superstore and Wal-Mart and bring back fresh food for Faroites.

Their last trip will be May 31. They will remain open for business for two weeks to sell off all their dry goods.

“It makes it very difficult, we have a lot of people in the community that just don’t drive very much, but some people go in to Ross River or Whitehorse fairly regularly, but it would make it difficult if they had to do the shopping for everyone,” said Vainio.

The manager of the Ross River Dena Store has told Vainio he will stock extra food for Faro citizens, but some sort of delivery system has to be set up.

The Dena Store would also have to arrange a place in Faro to sell their wares and have a payment method set up.

“The town of Faro can’t interfere with private business; we have to be very careful about that,” said Vainio.

“However, we’re in a situation right now where a lot of members in the community are looking to us and asking, ‘What’s happening, what can we do?’

“There’s a little bit of discomfort out there about how they will get their supplies – we’re four hours from Whitehorse and it’s very expensive travelling back and forth.”

What is already starting to happen, said Vainio, is that people in town are calling each other to share and trade food.

Vainio was invited to dinner at somebody’s home and had to drop off the potatoes and whip cream beforehand, she said.

Even though the town is trying to remain at arms length from the business sector, it has held brainstorming meetings with Regional Economic Development and the rural secretariat out of Whitehorse.

“Nothing has concretely come out of it; they realize our situation and they are trying to work with us to bring in information,” said Vainio

“I’m quite pleased, because we’re at a bit of a loss; there may be some expertise that can help guide us into what type of funding programs may exists out there.”

The two government bodies have also provided Vainio with books and other media material on starting businesses and co-operatives.

Vainio has distributed this information to interested community members.

“We have to be very careful that we don’t get involved but then perhaps they can set up a workshop for co-operatives,” she said.

 “Faro is amazing and we will get through this,” she said.

“Don’t know what the future looks like yet, but we will get through this.”

It may be hard for one person in the town to come up with the money to buy one of the businesses, but if residents work as a group, Vainio is sure that some solution will arise.

“I believe that more than the money itself, what it will take is the group having a positive attitude of working together, if they want it to happen and they’re willing to work together, I know it can happen,” she said.

This year, Faro raised $28,000 to send the high school kids on a trip to Europe.

“That’s amazing for a town with a population of about 400,” said Vainio.

“We can really pull together when we need to."