A new gift shop, The Trading Post, has opened at the Ashcroft Esso Travel Centre on Hwy. 1 at Cornwall Road, and travel centre manager Jason Blain is looking forward to the new venture.
“The truckers’ lounge [at the travel centre] didn’t do very well,” he says, “and some people abused it. So we asked ourselves what was something people would want to stop at, and we thought of a gift shop.” The changeover began last November, and The Trading Post opened on May 11, offering clothing, jewellery, toys, games, books, and more, much of it with a First Nations theme.
“We had a key image of having First Nations items so we’d have that presence,” says Blain, “but there are only so many Native design things you can own. We tried to keep items local as much as possible, and we’d like to have even more local things in the shop.” He plans to expand the range of items available, making the gift shop a place that will appeal to travellers, as well as to locals looking for a special gift.
“We pull almost 100 per cent of our traffic off the highway; we don’t have a lot of pedestrian visitors,” he laughs. “We do look to locals to sustain us during the two or three quiet months. But people need to learn where we are.” He says that he still hears of people in Ashcroft who don’t know the travel centre exists, and who think the closest gas station and convenience store is in Cache Creek.
Earlier this year the travel centre had to shutter the Country Style and Mr. Sub franchises on the site. “They weren’t self-sustaining,” says Blain, adding that the lack of name recognition of the franchises in western Canada was a difficulty. They are currently looking into a few different options for food service at the site, and hope to have information soon about what’s going on.
The travel centre is operated by the Ashcroft Indian Band, and is a status station that’s open seven days a week. The Trading Post is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday. “We’d love to have feedback, and hear about what people want to see,” says Blain.