'You Gotta Get Out of Here Now'

Flooding damages, closes Fort Plain Nice N Easy store (video & slideshow)

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

FORT PLAIN, N.Y. -- A Nice N Easy franchise location is closed indefinitely after flooding filled the store with 3-1/2 feet of water, leaving a solid three inches of thick mud in its wake.

"I've been in the c-store business for a little over 32 years, and it's the first time I've ever run into anything like this," Allan Foote, director of store operations for Blueox Corp., which operates the Fort Plain, N.Y., store, told CSP Daily News.

The destruction began Thursday night, June 27, with heavy rains. Rainwater began filling Fort Plain's Main Street, where the store sits. Meanwhile, the river running behind the store began to reach over its banks.

A passerby arrived and let the employee know the water was up to the sidewalk. "Five minutes later someone came and said, 'You gotta get out of here now'," said Foote.

Water from the street and the river overtook the store, smashing through the glass of the front doors. Within a half hour, the damage was done, and now Foote, Blueox and Nice N Easy are looking at a complete gut job. Walls, flooring, cabinetry and electricity are being pulled out, and all products and supplies were sent to the dump.

Locals arrived Friday morning to help scrape the half-foot to a foot of mud off the parking lot surface, and Foote found a few silver linings amidst the waterlogged cabinets and muck: everything below the gas pumps appears to be in good shape, and a walk-in cooler and some pizza ovens were unscathed.

While the outcome is still hazy, Foote guesses it could take a month to six weeks to get the store back up and running. Unfortunately Blueox doesn't have any nearby stores to relocate its approximately 15 staffers.

"We have employees that are here willing to help and work, and we're just cleaning it up and doing what we have to do," he said.

Canastota, N.Y.-based Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes currently operates more than 85 stores in the upstate New York market. Blueox is an energy company serving the Oxford, N.Y., community. It operates one truckstop and 10 convenience stores, four of which are franchised with Nice N Easy. The remaining stores carry the company's Big Blue's brand.

Perhaps the biggest kicker: The store just wrapped up an interior remodel. But Foote remains upbeat despite the work ahead.

"A former boss of mine had a great saying: 'In this business, you have to keep both feet firmly planted in mid-air'."

Abbie Westra, CSP/Winsight By Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP
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