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

Jumbo saga reaches finale

A three-decade long disagreement comes to a close.

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Former Waterside property to be rezoned?

Invermere residents supported rezoning Waterside property.

Angel Flight

Flights take patients for medical appointments.

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

B.C. asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ when screening for coronavirus

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Cellarman at Okanagan winery fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Most Read