Owner of Niagara Grocery Jennifer McKimmie in front of the store at 579 Niagara St. in James Bay. Victoria New file photo

Owner of Niagara Grocery Jennifer McKimmie in front of the store at 579 Niagara St. in James Bay. Victoria New file photo

Niagara Grocery closes its doors

Owner ‘heartbroken’ to say goodbye to neighbourhood store

After eight years in business, Niagara Grocery, a beloved grocery store in James Bay, has closed its doors.

Owner Jennifer McKimmie announced the closure on the store’s Facebook page last Wednesday night and is heartbroken to say goodbye to the store.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she told the Victoria News.

In the last year-and-a-half, the store, which originally opened in 2009 and has since transformed from a convenience store to a much-loved neighbourhood market, has struggled to stay open. In August 2015, the store’s landlord listed the building at 579 Niagara St. and property next door for sale.

Shortly after, McKimmie set up an online fundraising campaign to raise the roughly $250,000 needed to put a downpayment on the property and keep the businesses running, but ultimately fell short of its goal, raising $3,800 in a month.

In March 2016, locals Seamus McKeating and his wife Jennifer Gunter purchased the building, keeping McKimmie as owner. But McKimmie was unable to secure a long-term lease and a few weeks ago, the store found a new home with Imagine Studio Cafe at 31 Erie St.

After the move, McKimmie admits it wasn’t the same and soon after made the decision to close Niagara Grocery.

“Niagara was Niagara because of the time, the place, the people. Sometimes you can’t recreate things. My heart is broken,” she said, adding she’s grateful for the support she’s received from customers along the way.

“I’m humbled by the support and so very grateful for all of the people who I’ve met along the way from customers to farmers to producers to people with various causes. It’s humbling the connections that have been made.”

Since its sudden closure, there has been an outpouring of support on social media.

One woman shopped at the store for several years until she moved away.

“You took a dingy, grungy corner store and turned it into a wonderful gathering place for like-minded souls to show their support for B.C. growers and producers,” she said in a post on Facebook.

Some posts said the store was a “treasure” and “highlight” in the neighbourhood, others called it the “best little store in Victoria.”

kendra.wong@vicnews.com