Brie, bread and bananas
New venture shows confidence in area economy

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Sep 04/98) - Inuvik's fresh fruit and vegetable monopoly has ended.

And soon, area residents can buy fresh cut-from-the-round Brie.

Entrepreneur Don Patterson is putting his long-held belief that a permanent green grocery and deli can thrive in Inuvik to the test.

He opened the Inuvik Fresh Food Market Aug. 17 with the official grand opening the next day.

Located near the town hall in the upstairs of the building where Floyd Roland has his constituency office, the fresh food market operates despite renovation work still on-going.

The windows will soon be boarded likely with paintings of fruit visible on both sides. The rest of the floor will also be painted brightly, Patterson says.

"I bought this building so I had to start finding things to help pay for it," he explains.

"So I decided to follow through on the ideas I had before. That was fresh produce, a deli and probably a small home-bakery and a soup, salad and sandwich place. Maybe even an ice cream bar."

Though the new business gives Inuvikmiut freedom of choice when it comes to produce, Patterson still respects his competitor, the Northern Store.

"Anybody who says they are going to put somebody out of business doesn't know what they're talking about," he says.

"(The Northern Store) shouldn't be nervous."

Patterson's store now has fruits and vegetables with deli-style soups in a fridge. In the future he envisages a deli.

He says he is not watching the Northern Store to see what they do, but instead will focus on his own business and do his own thing.

"As I've said to many people, I have to take one step at a time. The older I get the harder it is to take each step," he says before laughing.

"I won't be bringing in the packaged stuff. It'll all be the fresh stuff and the rounds of cheese and so on."

The store has been busy the first week and Patterson says each day he sees both new and repeat customers.

Both Patterson and Northern Store manager Brian Gladys say they can provide the lower price for customers while providing the fresher produce.

"Every bag of potatoes he sells is one bag that we don't," Gladys said of his new competition.

Still, Gladys said he is not concerned about the new business as he thinks Northern will remain providing fresh and affordable produce.

As far as remaining business opportunities go, Gladys said one gap in the Inuvik market is a dry-cleaning drop-off place where clothes could be shuttled to Whitehorse or Dawson City and returned.

"It's expensive to buy the machines, but there could be a drop off place."