A Legacy of Nice

CSP honors MacDougall for pioneering efforts in convenience retailing, foodservice.

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

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Describing MacDougall as “generous,” Reuter said MacDougall’s legacy was as much about a strong retail brand as it was about “the countless lives he’s influenced.”
Reuter then introduced MacDougall’s children, Jennifer, Debbie, Sherry and Michael. Jennifer took the microphone to describe MacDougall, a family man who did absolutely ordinary tasks such as mowing the lawn, walking the dog or picking up the dry cleaning, and sometimes oddball things such as sitting in his car through a car wash with the windows open. And the time when he was fishing in a small rowboat that he discovered was leaking, and deciding to fix it by pulling the plug. Or his passion for riding a Harley-Davidson.
As children, they would hear MacDougall talk at the kitchen table about plans for the stores, or the time he almost became a priest, or his stint as a probation officer—bits and flashes of his journey. But for his children, she said, it was about encouraging them to pursue their own paths.
“He always told me, ‘Trust yourself to find what you love and pursue every opportunity [to fulfill that path],’ ” Jennifer said. She ended up working for the federal government in the field of demographics (and found herself sleeping late because the government was partially shut down at the time of the ceremony.)
“He said, ‘Find out what matters,’ ” she went on to say. “And ‘Find a way to give to others.’ ”
For her father, the stores were a way to do just that, offering places for groceries in rural areas so residents wouldn’t have to travel far for the basics, as well as community destinations for people to meet, chat and always feel welcome.

Lights, Camera, Action

The evening transitioned to a documentary-style video, with family, friends, co-workers and even MacDougall himself telling not only his story, but also that of a burgeoning convenience chain. The storytelling built to an onscreen epiphany for MacDougall, who—choking back emotion—described his legacy as one of simply being “nice.”
But building a business on “nice” is an oversimplification, as the tribute video revealed. MacDougall and his team faced a litany of challenges, the foremost being taxation issues and the Native American competition that hit core convenience categories in the 1990s.

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