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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(BC Conservation Service)
Hunter charged, fined for poaching immature moose in West Kelowna

Richard Fischer pled guilty to two charges under the BC Wildlife Act

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Central Okanagan Board of Education chair Moyra Baxter and school district administrator/CEO Kevin Kaardal. (File photo)
Promise of new schools will bring change for Central Okanagan students

New high schools in Glenmore and Westside will cause student shifting when built

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read