Leo Fawcett was coordinating to meet up with someone and buy a pair of earphones for his daughter for Christmas when the person suggested they meet up at the Douglas Depot.
Fawcett, who lives in the Mendenhall Valley, was surprised. He didn’t realize the convenience store, which had been closed since 2014, was open. The store has been open for a few weeks now, offering gas, groceries and alcohol in downtown Douglas.
Fawcett was one of a handful of customers on a slow Monday afternoon. Behind the counter, Paul Thibodeau knew it wouldn’t stay slow for long. People would be dropping by to pick up last-minute items for Christmas Eve.
Thibodeau’s brother Peter owns Thibodeau’s Markets, which is partnering with Crowley Fuel in the gas station and convenience store. Paul helped get the store set up, and said they’re still figuring out what exactly to include in the grocery section.
Thibodeau’s Markets owns liquor stores and convenience stores all around town, but they want to make the Douglas Depot a little distinctive.
“It’s going to have its own flavor,” Paul Thibodeau said.
They want the store to be the place for dog-walkers on Sandy Beach, for people attending hockey games at Treadwell Arena and for any other people who spend time in downtown Douglas, Thibodeau said.
Ownership of the store changed when Crowley bought Taku Fuel in 2014, Crowley spokesperson David DeCamp said. Crowley is a fuel distributor and doesn’t specialize in convenience stores, so they kept the gas part open and closed the convenience store. Crowley is based in Jacksonville, Florida, but has an Alaska division and is the largest fuel distributor in the state, DeCamp said.
Still, they knew that they eventually wanted to re-open the convenience store. Crowley Director of Business Development Jennifer Aklestad said in an interview Monday that they wanted to find the right local partner to help run the convenience store.
“That’s not in our wheelhouse,” Aklestad said. “When we have assets like what we have in Douglas, we are a fuel distributor, we do that stuff really well. Convenience stores, it’s just not what we do, and we make a point of partnering with people who are good at doing that.”
Eventually they worked out a deal with Thibodeau’s. The gas station shut down for a few months this year for renovations, and opened again in November. The new convenience store opened soon afterward, in early December.
The store is open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The front of the store is a standard convenience store with snacks, drinks, sandwiches and toiletries. The back of the store, separated by a wooden divider and two swinging doors, is the alcohol section.
The Douglas Depot is not the only convenience store and liquor store on the island, of course. Breeze-In still has a location near the Douglas Bridge. Spokespeople for Breeze-In were not available for comment Monday on the addition of the Douglas Depot.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.