Forced closure of Clavet, Sask. business has nearby community puzzled

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WATCH: Clavet Junction has been a mainstay for the community but it's being forced to close at the end of April, sparking reaction from the village of roughly 400 people – Apr 25, 2021

For travellers venturing down Highway 16 east of Saskatoon, they’ll have more than likely passed by or stopped at the Domo Clavet Junction.

The one-stop-shop, as many locals refer to it, offers everything from a post office and convenience store to a gas station. It’s a place where many locals meet up for a coffee or an ice cream.

The business has been a fixture of the region for the last 44 years, nearly three of which were spent at its current location just outside the village of Clavet.

It is being taken back by RBC. The bank said the owners of the business agreed to terms when they opened at the new location in May 2018.

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The owner of the business, Noreen Taylor, said she has always kept up with her payments on the building. In a statement sent to Global News, she said she has never missed a payment and has always been on time.

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She added the money owed for the month of April was sent to her RBC account but was never taken out.

She also provided a timeline over the last couple of months. Taylor said she received a forbearance agreement from January to April with set and monthly fees totalling thousands of dollars.

Taylor adds she received a notice of forbearance from RBC.

On April 9, she negotiated a new forbearance agreement through June 1.

She said, according to her lawyer, with current conditions with the bank, the business has until April 30, unless they could get a letter of intent or new financing.

According to a letter Taylor sent to Global News, in Sept. 2020, a banker from Calgary called her to inform them that the numbers (revenue) were not looking good.

Taylor said all attempts to contact bankers have been unsuccessful to this point for more information or trying to work through the situation.

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An RBC spokesperson told Global News in a statement, “while RBC respects the privacy and confidentiality of our client’s relationships and does not comment on client-specific situations.”

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The emailed response also said, “while they value the relationships we have with our commercial and small business clients and how we recognize the critical role they play in the Canadian economy.”

“We assess each client individually and work with them to provide the best possible solutions to help them navigate these challenging times including accessing government support programs.”

Taylor said the whole situation has been difficult.

“When you only get one or two customers after 7 (p.m.), it doesn’t pay to have staff on hand. I’ve had to lessen staff hours and decrease my stock. I stopped taking fuel shipments. We ran out of fuel on Saturday,” she said.

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Reaction from the local community

Roughly 100 members of the nearby community came out to the junction on Sunday morning to meet in the parking lot, wearing masks and staying physically distanced while they enjoyed a warm beverage and showed their support.

The mayor of Clavet, Michelle King, is a frequent visitor to the business. She said it has become a routine for her family.

“My kids and I come here often, whether it’s after hockey or for some ice cream, it’s certainly a staple in my household,” King said.

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King wondered why the bank isn’t trying to help out a small business instead of taking it back, especially during the pandemic.

The Reeve for the rural municipality of Blucher, Blair Cummins, said the closure will force people to go to Saskatoon more often, causing an inconvenience for many. He like many others is a frequent visitor for a meal.

“If you need a jug of milk, a loaf of bread, (to) pick up the mail, or a fill up on gas you can’t make the short trip out here to pick that up,” Cummins said. “Saskatoon would be the nearest centre for that.”

Former employee and current Clavet resident, Candice Tarr, wonders what people who live along Highway 16 and east do for their parcels and picking mail, with the junction serving as the post office for the 410 people in the area.

“Are we looking at having to all get a mailbox at a location within Saskatoon? There would no place for our parcels to be delivered to nearby,” Tarr said.

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Molly Epp lives nearby on a farm and sold the land to Noreen and her husband three years ago. She said because of the well-known Taylor family name and the fact they are good-hearted and friendly people, they wouldn’t have sold the land to anyone else. She added every generation knows this place.

“Half or more of the local kids have worked at the store doing something,” Epp said. “It’s a landmark.”

Tarr said she fears this could have a major impact on people moving to Clavet.

“With no local place like this, why would people move here. They would look to somewhere with more convenience (and amenities,)” Tarr said.

The Clavet Junction’s final day of operations as it stands, will be on Friday.

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