Skip to content

Local grocery store owner reflects on 29 years in the business

'I just think when people go out and shop they have to be smart now when they shop'
Mike and Lori during their retirement party in October of 2022. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Mike Sheehan believes 47 years in the grocery business is long enough. 

Now it's time for some rest and relaxation. 

Mike Sheehan and his wife Lori operated the No Frills grocery store on McKeown Avenue for 29 years and officially retired in the fall of 2022.  

"I got into the grocery store business at 16 years old when I started working at Dominion in Nipissing Plaza," Mike recalled.

"I never thought about owning a store obviously until I got older and then I felt, 'hey, I would not mind doing that.'" 

Sheehan says the competition never really changed over nearly three decades of running a grocery store in North Bay.

However, he admits when Walmart started offering groceries through their stores in Canada, there was an impact. 

"That was another competition when we came to Canada because we already had Metro and Sobey's then Walmart came to Canada so that was a big challenge," he said. 

The pandemic was some of the most difficult times Sheehan experienced as a grocery store owner. 

"That was probably two of the most stressful years of our lives," he admitted. 

"Especially at the beginning because the rules kept changing all the time. One day they would tell you you can have this many people, then suddenly you cannot have that many in anymore in the store, and back then nobody knew what it was so we had to keep and cleaning, and then all of a sudden the mask mandate came down and 99 per cent of the people came in with a mask on.

"You did have that other one per cent that did not want to have a mask on so then everybody was mad at them for not having a mask on.  So there is nothing we could do, as they have got to come in and shop. Everything just kept changing all the time. When a new variant came out there would be new rules so it was very stressful. Not just on us as owners, but our staff as well." 

While COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, now the grocery store industry is under the spotlight for the rise of grocery store prices that started during the pandemic and continues in 2023.  

"I just think when people go out and shop they have to be smart now when they shop," he said. 

"Look out for the sales, and people have to just shop very carefully now to pick and choose what they want."

Sheehan does not have just one memory of his 29 years of owning a grocery store. He says he won't forget his employees; some of who were with him since day one. 

"If you don't have them you won't be successful," said Sheehan.  

"Customers have been great too, there are the few that don't like you but those are few and far between." 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
Read more

Reader Feedback