Debbie Pickering, left, celebrates a big Keno win with A1 Convenience owner Jodi Rai. The Port Alberni store boasts of being the winningest store in British Columbia. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Port Alberni store sells another big lottery winner

A1 Convenience in Port Alberni has continued its winning lottery streak

A1 Convenience in Port Alberni has continued its winning lottery streak.

In March, A1 Convenience celebrated its big lottery jackpot winners as well as its 26th anniversary. Over the years the store has sold five, million-dollar and multi-million-dollar winning lotto tickets, including a $5 million winner sold in February 2019. There have also been winners with smaller totals in the thousands.

READ: Vancouver Island home to B.C.’s luckiest lotto store

“We have another winner,” owner Jodi Rai exclaimed.

Earlier in June, Debbie Pickering played Keno at A1 and won $105,000.

Rai and his wife Surinder opened A1 Convenience 26 years ago. “My friends in Nanaimo had (a convenience store) and friends in Vancouver had one. We were all looking for work,” Rai explained. “We did it for the kids.”

The Rais have lived in Port Alberni since 1969; Jodi Rai worked in logging camps in the forest industry. “That goes up and down, up and down. It’s not been very stable since 1981 recession. We were desperate for work; this is my side work.”

They built A1 Convenience with the gas bar and car wash from scratch, rather than purchasing a business from someone else. He worked both jobs, with his family also working in the store.

Rai finally quit the logging industry in 2008, when another recession hit, and has been operating A1 full time ever since.

One theme that became evident with all the lotto winners is how much the winners appreciated the community feel of the store. Staff members know their regulars’ names, and Pickering’s experience was no different.

“I’ve always been involved in the community,” he said, whether it was in youth sports, weightlifting or other activities. “The community helped us to get going; the community is behind us.”

Just as the Rai family is behind all their customers, celebrating their wins.

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