A new store is to open in Fort Smith – but what it will sell is still being decided.
Entrepreneur Ann Lepine, who also owns Chase’s Pit Stop, intends to open Ace’s on Portage Avenue where Kelly’s gas station and convenience store were located. The attached restaurant, Gigi's Bakery, will return with early morning breakfasts and baked goods.
Ahead of opening, Lepine decided to pose a question to the community: what kind of store do you want?
Within a day, dozens of people had commented on her Facebook post. They wanted diapers, electronics, and art, among other things.
While she won’t be able to meet every request, her post did indicate where residents think there are gaps in the market.
“I’ve gone to the stores in town and there’s stuff I couldn’t find and I get frustrated,” she said, explaining that one day she looked everywhere for a barbecue cover and was unable to find one.
“So if I’m looking for something, there’s obviously other people in the community that are looking for something they can’t find.”
Lepine says she won't sell groceries, gas, or clothing – things other stores already sell. She also nixed suggestions to sell marijuana, which the territorial government will only allow to be sold in liquor stores and online immediately following legalization.
But she plans to stock other suggestions, like birthday, holiday, and wedding supplies, that are harder to come by in Fort Smith.
The store is set to open later this fall after renovations are complete. Gigi’s Bakery may open in as little as a few weeks.
Gigi’s, operated by Cathy Lepine, will return from hiatus in this new location to serve homemade meals from 6:30am till 3pm every day. (Once they determine the slowest business day, they will close one day a week.)