Staff-less Convenience Stores Could Soon be the Norm
Aisle 24, a chain of fully automated convenience stores, just opened its ninth location in Ontario and plans to expand into three more provinces this year
John Douang grew up helping his parents at their independent grocery store in Toronto. “Seeing how hard they had to work pushed me,” he says. “My parents worked 14-hour days seven days a week. When they wanted to take a vacation, they had to close the store because they couldn’t afford to hire someone.”
These core memories inspired Douang to leave his job as a content manager at video-streamer Quickplay in 2016 and launch Aisle 24, a chain of fully automated convenience stores now expanding across Canada. It’s a family business: Marie Yong, Douang’s wife, co-founded the company and is now its COO. Five months into developing their business plan, they hired Douang’s brother, Josh, to lead training and development. And it was a $100,000 investment from Douang’s parents that got them off the ground.