Remembering MacDougall: Tough on Tribes
Nice N Easy leader fought for level playing field against tax-exempt competitors
CANASTOTA, N.Y. --For many in the industry, John MacDougall, CEO of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, who died June 21, was an eternal optimist, a mentor and friend who was passionate about the industry and forever curious about how it could evolve.
But for people like Jim Calvin, president for the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS), Albany, N.Y., MacDougall played a role far beyond co-founding the association.
While he created its "family atmosphere," MacDougall also set the tone for NYACS' "vocal advocacy on behalf of convenience stores … [These] were extensions of John's own personality and philosophy."
Calvin told CSP Daily News, "On so many matters--internal and external--he was its conscience and its compass."
MacDougall had taken the lead on many tough battles. One of the more notable being with local Native Americans, where MacDougall actually went to Congress to testify against the activity going on in his market.
Fran Duskiewicz, Nice N Easy's senior executive vice president, recalled how in the early 2000s, the problem of Native American tribes selling gasoline and cigarettes exacerbated, with one tribe moving from operating only on established reservation land to buying c-stores outside of those boundaries and still claiming tax-exempt status.
"We'd see the evidence on its effect when [a tribe] would close operations for a while, and we'd see sales of cigarettes in Syracuse [at our stores] double or triple," Duskiewicz said in CSP magazine's Retail Leader of the Year feature published late last year. "And that effect would ripple out a hundred miles, that's how far people were driving to get cigarettes."
In part because of MacDougall's celebrity status at the pitchman in regional commercials for Nice N Easy, but also because of his role as a well-respected industry champion and mentor, his passing was met with an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy and affection.
"We were blessed to have had him in our industry, in our association and in our lives," Calvin said.