A1 Convenience owner Jodi Rai, right, joins the five million-dollar lotto winners who have all purchased tickets at his Port Alberni corner store: from left, Rocky LaPlante, Helga and Al Fry, Otto Anker, Louise and Ian Thomas (who won $5 million in February 2019), and Richard Zoet. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

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

Five million-dollar winners have bought tickets from same Port Alberni corner store

Port Alberni boasts of one of the winningest convenience stores in B.C. Lottery Corporation history.

Last week, the A-1 Convenience on Redford Street celebrated its five, million-dollar and multi-million-dollar winners as part of its 26-year anniversary.

READ: Port Alberni couple wins $5 million jackpot

“It’s the luck of the draw,” said Jodi Rai, who opened the store in 1993 with his wife, Surinder. “It’s their luck and we are just the provider. We’re really glad they won.”

Al and Helga Fry were the first million-dollar winners at A-1 Convenience, in 1996.

“It was a random ticket,” Helga recalled.

Al bought the ticket. He remembers he was watching a football game on TV when he checked the numbers and realized they won $1 million. He put the ticket on their china cabinet, told Helga to take a look at it “then I finished watching the football game,” he said. “For two weeks, the ticket sat there.”

When the couple finally went to Victoria to claim their prize, they stayed in a hotel that was as close to the lottery ticket office as they could get. It wasn’t an expensive hotel, Helga said, and no one suspected they were big winners.

“We sat in the hotel having breakfast with our picture on the front page [of a newspaper] and no one sitting around us knew who we were.”

They didn’t do anything splashy with their money, but they helped their children.

Next was Rocky and Patti LaPlante, who bought a Celebration ticket on Jan. 16, 1997, and became the next instant millionaires. They wife ended up giving a lot of their winnings away.

In 1998, Otto Anker joined the A-1 Convenience millionaire club.

READ: Alberni’s newest millionaire ‘feeling good about life’

The fourth million-dollar win from the same convenience store came nearly a decade later.

Richard Zoet kept quiet about his win for a few days. It had come at the conclusion of a difficult period in his life: He had come out of bankruptcy a week earlier following a jail sentence and repayment to ICBC.

A regular lotto player in the past, Zoet bought a Lotto 6/49 ticket for the June 7, 2017 draw. “When it showed online that the winner was from Port Alberni, I said that was my ticket. Then I checked it and it was a winning ticket. I just sat on it.”

Since then, he has bought new cars for himself and his mother, and made numerous donations to charities.

The latest new millionaires are Ian and Louise Thomas, who snagged $5 million on Feb. 13.

“I bought the ticket, and I checked it,” Louise said. “We were up at the Smoke Stack, it’s friends of ours that own it. We went up to say hi. I hadn’t checked my ticket yet… she put the ticket in the machine and it seized up. She said ‘What have you done to my machine?’”

“We went into shock,” Ian said. “The girls behind the counter were screaming.”

Eventually, the Thomases want to travel, but Louise is still working right now. They will soon have family in Mississauga, Ont., and plan on making regular trips there.

“To have this many winners that have won major prizes … to all buy from one store, is pretty rare,” said BCLC territory manager Taylor Landry.

Everytime a big winner is announced at the store, Rai said he sees a spike in sales. Even people attending the anniversary celebration on Friday said they had bought tickets that day.

Most of the winners claim A-1 Convenience as their neighbourhood corner store, and all of them decided to stay in the neighbourhood despite their big wins. They all still buy lottery tickets too.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Greater Victoria to see all 10 of the electric buses announced by federal-provincial governments

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $79 million in joint funding for 118 new buses across B.C.

Gate at Mount Douglas Park smashed on Wednesday night

It is suspected that a motorist drove through after being locked in after 11 p.m.

Canadians may experience EpiPen shortage, says Health Canada

The EpiPen Jr is not affected by this shortage

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

New home in Saanich for adults with disabilities moves closer to fruition

Anonymous donor steps up with $1 million donation during fundraising campaign

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

HISTORY: How a lighthouse came to Sooke

Elida Peers | Contributed Last week a young boy in a family… Continue reading

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read