While serving on a jury in the Hernando County Courthouse in downtown Brooksville last summer, Nikki Janse van Rensburg got an idea for a new business.
During a break in her duties, she wanted to grab a quick snack and didn’t have time to go to one of the cozy downtown eateries. The nearest convenience store was miles away.
She told her husband, Warren, that a little convenience store would be a great addition to historic downtown Brooksville. The atmosphere, she thought, would provide a perfect spot for a little general store to accommodate foot traffic.
The Janse van Rensburgs opened Corner Store Convenience directly across from the entrance to the courthouse about three weeks ago.
Neighboring businesses came out to embrace their newest neighbor, offering help to get them noticed and immediately built bonds that keep commerce active and plentiful.
While small in comparison to a modern convenience store, Corner Store Convenience stocks many of the same items, from a variety of bottled soft drinks, juices, and water to chips, cookies, beer and cigarettes. And they are in the process of adding lottery.
The idea is to slowly build inventory based on customer requests and suggestions.
But it’s more than a little store. The character inside was molded from the old fashioned charm of a general store, tucked inside a historic building that also plays home to Brookstone Wines and Kessel Tech.
“We started looking around for places that were available and came across this one,” Nikki Janse van Rensburg said.
The storefront was the former home of Brookstone Wines, which moved in the space behind.
Nikki Janse van Rensburg said Warren has spent a majority of his adult life working as a contractor overseas to support his family. With an 8-year-old son to raise, the couple hoped starting a business would keep Warren home while providing a place for their son to grow and learn the family business.
“He already knows how to run the cash register,” Nikki said.
The shop is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
David Kopp, a resident at Tangerine Cove on Howell Ave., has been a regular patron since Corner Store Convenience opened. Kopp discovered the cute little “general store” while strolling the downtown streets.
He often grabs a cup of coffee — fresh brewed and free during May — and sits on the bench outside the door to observe the downtown sites.
“I bring a lot of customers in,” said Kopp.
Nicole said the traffic into her store has steadily increased as the neighborhoods learn they are open. Previously, there was nothing to pull people downtown in the evenings or on weekends.
Of course, weekdays are busy with traffic as normal business commences each day.
Andre Rivera stops in frequently between busses on his way to Pasco Hernando State College where he is working toward a degree in human services.
“I come in here every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday since they’ve been open,” Rivera said, “because it’s convenient.” He made a quick purchase of a bottled coffee drink and packaged snack cake and chatted briefly with Nikki Janse van Rensburg before heading out.
The friendly environment of a downtown store is the draw. Patrons to Corner Store Convenience can expect to feel welcomed with a casual conversation and prices that are comparable to a larger chain.
Once the store settles in, the Janse van Rensburgs hope to have an official grand opening.
The experience so far has been a positive one, said Nikki Janse van Rensburg.
“Everyone we’ve worked with, on the city and state level, has been straight forward and helpful,” she said.
Contact Hernando Today correspondent Kim Dame at email@example.com.