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'Unsustainable' theft at cashier-free convenience store may force its closure

The first 24/7 cashier-less store in Vancouver may close the year after it opened.
An Avenue C convenience store is a cashier-less shop. At UBC, theft is making the "express micro-market" store model unsustainable.

Vancouver's first 24/7 cashier-less shop may not last too long.

That's because of an "unsustainable amount of theft" is going on at the store, called Avenue C. Located at the Walter Gage student residence at the University of BC (UBC), the "express micro-market" is open to the general public at all times of day and night as a small convenience store with a self-checkout.

If the theft continues, the shop, which opened in October 2021, may not be around much longer.

"Our goal is to keep Avenue C open for our community and we are working with Campus Security and Canteen Canada to enhance security measures," says UBC director of food services Colin Moore in a statement. "However, if we are not able to significantly reduce the level of theft, we will need to close the market."

A timeline for when Avenue C may close has not been determined.

A spokesperson for UBC says a letter was sent to students living in the area about the thefts and potential closure, due to how many thefts there were. However, exactly how much theft is going on is not being shared with the public.

"For security reasons, we're not going to disclose the information related to items taken," states Moore.

He adds that people who steal may be subject to an RCMP investigation and/or face consequences from the school under its own code of conduct, but doesn't say if any action has been taken.

In early September, UBC sent alumni an email indicating that over 35 per cent of undergraduates on the Vancouver campus "report that they lack consistent access to the food needed to stay healthy," prompting concerns about support for the campus' food bank and students' overall state of food security.

Vancouver Is Awesome has reached out the UBC RCMP for comment and will update this story when new information is made available.