“We’re describing ourselves as a 21st-century general store,” said Chris Westwell, one of four owners of the new Nsixty Trading Company store in Fort Smith.
The grand opening of the store took place on Wednesday, July 1. As Cabin Radio interviewed the owners on Monday, excited future patrons were already knocking on the door to ask if the store was open yet.
Nsixty, located at 75 King Street in Fort Smith – in the old Phoenix Automotive and Office Solutions building – is now open from 10am to 6pm on weekdays and 12pm to 4pm on Saturdays.
The store will sell everything from specialty foods to office equipment and electronics, trying to fill gaps in the market not met by other stores in the territory. All products are available to order online.
A photo showing off Nsixty Trading Company’s new products. The store opened in Fort Smith on July 1. Photo: Nsixty Trading Company
“The focus is on small Canadian brands,” said Westwell, listing things like jams, jellies, preserves, condiments, olive oils, vinegars, chocolate, mustard, coffee, and tea sourced from around the country.
The owners have curated a selection of consumer electronics that can’t be purchased anywhere else in Fort Smith, and will carry on serving Office Solutions’ customers.
Westwell owns the business with his wife Joanna Westwell, friend Gord Rothnie, and brother Matthew Skaarup, who will manage the store day-to-day.
“Running a store of our own has been a dream of my brother and I’s as long as forever, and Joanna’s as well,” said Westwell.
“And after many, many years of sitting around the table – talking and planning and come up with what we wanted to do, and how we would do it – the opportunity and the time presented itself to make it happen.
“We wanted to have a store where we could sell what we’re passionate about, what we like, and what we think others will like – stuff that we can be proud of seeing, and unique things you can’t get anywhere in the North.”
The store owners hope to sell northern products from across the three territories, but this will depend on space and demand.
They said the response from Fort Smith has been supportive, and that everywhere they go they are stopped by people ecstatic for new offerings.
“Everyone’s super excited about something new happening,” said Skaarup.
“This is a years-long dream come true. We’ve worked really hard, trying to get things the way we envisioned for the grand opening … on a string and a prayer, but we’ve pulled it together and it’s looking pretty good.”