Monday, February 20

Only in the Yukon: Riverside Grocery

In many ways, Whitehorse is a lot like any other town. We have our big box Walmart and Superstore and Canadian Tire, but we have our little unique places, too. Less than there used to be, since some of the old landmarks, like our quonset hardware store with it's decrepit tilting wood floors, have been torn down to make way for businesses that are more nondescript and less customer friendly.

One remaining treasure, however, is Riverside Grocery, on the corner of one of the busiest intersections, right across the street from the main public park with the beached riverboat, and the legislative building. For many years it was open 24 hours, but now it's open 20 hours per day. There are only two small rooms of products, with a few steps up to get from one room to the other, but if you want it, they've probably got it.

It's so chock full of stuff that it's hard to get a picture because you can't get far enough away from stacks of products to take one. See what I mean? Dog food, several styles of floor mops, garden gloves, rubber gloves, cheesecloth, irons, extension cords, brooms and whisk brooms, not to mention the corn nuts and candy. And if you go up the stairs to the far shelf in the photo, you can get fabric dye and a few other craft and sewing supplies.

One aisle over is the frozen dairy case. There you'll find regular frozen dairy treats, but pretend for a second you can't eat milk products. Not to worry, because they've got several sorts of soy and rice milk frozen treats. Do you eat only organic food? You'd be able to stock your cupboards at this little store, too.

If it's Halloween and you forgot to get your wee one a costume, you could buy one here at the last minute, along with a pumpkin for carving. Have you been sick? Every sort of over the counter medication you might need is here. Forgot your lunch? You can buy fresh made (or so they say!) sandwiches and brownies. Is it 1AM and you need a plunger--fast? You may pay through the nose for it, but at least they'll have it.

I stop here mostly for the slushies and ice cream cones, or maybe a newspaper from their selection of newspapers from places south.

From the photo at the top of this post, you'd think the building was the ordinary boxy sort, wouldn't you? It's not. It's almost triangle shaped, with one side only a few feet wide, as the photo shows. The shape of the building, I'm guessing, was determined long ago by the shape of the lot it occupied. So the outside of the store is almost--but not quite--as interesting as what's inside.
Update: A couple of local folks have commented with their Riverside Grocery anecdotes. Suz tells of the time last summer when her family was headed for the beach and needed pails and shovels for her boys. The stopped in Riverside for them.
The clerk could not find [them] in the store, but she checked in the back and came back with two pails, shovels attached, and at a reasonable price. And it was a small price to pay indeed for the joy of two boys who gloried that day in digging in the sand and catching minnows in their new buckets.

Chris worked at Riverside, and he
can attest to the wide range of goods. The only thing I was ever asked for while working there that I could not find for the customer was.....bulk nails. We had nails, just not in bulk.
He goes on:
Most interesting item on the shelf was electric socks.

An item I still by there exclusively is Tempura Batter. (Can't find it anywhere else.)

Also, if you think that the store is interesting, you should see the back room(s).
Hey, you know you've got something good going when your customers give you free advertising.

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