Q&A with Sandy Neitz, owner of Country Charm Corner Store

You are a licensed restaurant, convenience store and truck stop – a one-stop-for-everything place. How long have you been in business?
I have been in business for almost 13 years. I opened up a soup-and-sandwich place back in December of 2007. Within the first year of being open we expanded our menu and after being open for three years, we decided to become licensed.

How did you get started?
My partner at the time and I just decided it was time to get out of the city. I took custody of my niece and wanted something different for her other than city life. I just wanted something other than the mundane grind.

It says you are a small family-run business. How many family members work at the store?
Just me and my brother. My niece helps when needed, and we do have a part-time girl who works seven or eight months out of the year.

What are you best known for?
We are known for a few things. People travel from afar to get some of our fresh cinnamon buns. We are also known for our hamburgers. I’ve had people say they are the best burgers and are, by far, the best they’ve tasted. Again, people travel from afar to get our steaks. But, I must say everything on our menu is equally delicious.

You offer homestyle cooking. Who is your chef and how long has your chef been in charge of the kitchen?
Just me and my brother. I am in charge of the kitchen. I am not a pampered chef, but I do enjoy cooking.

You have quite an extensive menu at your restaurant. What are your bestsellers?
I would say all items on our menu.

Do you use local products as much as you can?
All my eggs and potatoes are bought from one of our local Hutterite colonies. We use nothing but Alberta beef. Im not sure what is going to happen with the beef prices tripling. I don’t get any grocery supplies delivered by the Sysco truck. Everything comes from local (Grande Prairie).

I also can beets, pickles, carrots and get all vegetables from the same colony. I do all the canning, including jam. And I do all the picking.

When did you add the outdoor patio?
Our outdoor patio was added about five years ago.

What is your store like? Is it a typical convenience store?
My store is anything from typical. If your shoes are muddy, they are taken off at the door. We have slippers for you to slip into, if you want. We have a small craft corner that has everything from a crocheted snowflake to a home-made bath bomb as well as preserves and crocheted hats.

When did you decide to add a liquor store?
I added my liquor store merchants license about three years ago.

You advertise to truckers on your site. Other than great food and coffee, what else do you offer truckers?
I do not have the facility to offer truckers showers, but they do have access to the bathroom.

Do you get regular truckers?
Yes, we do have truckers as regular customers. But with our declining economy, even they are stopping less.

Where do you see your store in five years?
It is to hard to say where we will be in five years. I put the store up for sale just over a year ago. We have had a little bit of interest. But because of the crash in our economy, and COVID-19, it seems our small business lies in the hands of our government. So, without expressing my thoughts and feelings on this too much, I will leave it there.