The Exchange District Campus’ convenience store part of new “secret event”

By: Emma Honeybun

The Red River Mercantile is making a comeback this year.

The Exchange District Campus’ convenience store closed for the summer break for the last time in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the following year, it wasn’t able to get back on its feet and continue operations. 

“We didn’t really know how many students would come back,” said Steve Nachtigall, executive director of the Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA). “We didn’t want to reopen until we kind of understood.”

The space has been vacant ever since.

“There was a big loss, because it was kind of sudden,” he said.

The RRCSA hasn’t announced any plans to reopen the store since the return to in-person learning. However, they’ve hinted at something coming to the space in the near future.

Following the hiring of Denize Esiyo, the very first student life manager at the RRCSA, there will be more events and student life activities at the college.

Included with these new student life activities is a proposed “secret event,” currently being prepped at the old Mercantile space. 

This event will only be for a period of time, said Nachtigall, but the students’ association is hoping to do something like it again if it’s successful.

Students sit beside what used to be the Red River Mercantile on Oct. 20, 2022. The RRCSA is currently planning a “secret event” in the space, which is hidden from students by a black curtain. (Emma Honeybun)

According to Nachtigall, the Mercantile was one of the busiest stores per square foot in Downtown Winnipeg before it closed.

It was an alternative spot for drinks and snacks, but it also sold Peggo cards, tobacco, and lottery tickets.

Manpreet Kaur, president at the RRCSA, was elected in May of last year. She was never able to visit the store before it closed.

“A convenience store is a great option for the students,” she said. “If there’s anything new or exciting there, it will be good to see students excited about the space.”

The association was hesitant to bring it back after the loss of funds, said Kaur. Their entire inventory had been disposed of because of possible COVID-19 contamination.

The RRCSA is making more moves to recover their businesses post-pandemic, Nachtigall said. 

They’ve submitted a proposal to turn one of their closed establishments at the Notre Dame Campus into a new mental health space, but the proposal is currently under review, said Nachtigall.