January 20, 2022

Shop fulfills a father’s dream

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

From left, Gregg Cuthbert Jr. and Dom Williams wait on Kyra Scoville on Friday at Ajax’s Convenience Store on south Main Street in Cortland. The business is a tribute to Cuthbert’s father, a retired A&P supermarket chain employee who died before the business became a reality.

Alexander Cuthbert dreamed of owning his own convenience store once he retired from the A&P supermarket he had worked at for about 40 years.

It didn’t happen before he died in 2009, but his dreamed lived on with his son, Gregg Cuthbert, who started his own convenience store in April, in honor of his father.

He named it Ajax’s Convenience Store, after his father’s nickname.

“He’d love it,” Gregg Cuthbert said.

Gregg Cuthbert is already an experienced business owner, having owned The Body Shop Tattoo and Piercing, now located at 37 Main St., for about 30 years. He wanted to open the convenience store, at 134 Main St., to accomplish his father’s dream, and create a place his kids can have a future with.

His son, Gregg Cuthbert Jr., already works at the store full-time, and he plans on having his daughter, Courtney Anne, begin working there full-time soon, too.

“It is a new beginning,” said Gregg Cuthbert Jr., who used to work at the tattoo shop more regularly. “It is inviting. People like the convenience of the store being in the middle of Main Street.”

The family atmosphere is one thing Gregg Cuthbert Jr., said he likes about working there. He and his dad are able to share ideas and design the store.

Gregg Cuthbert got the lease for the location, which used to be a salon, in February. He invested about $70,000 in renovations.

The store isn’t complete, Gregg Cuthbert Jr. said, as they are still finding out and getting certain items people like. Last week, Gregg Curthbert said he added a selection of produce.

His goal is to add a New York City-style sub station where people can get products such as cold cuts and salads, too. Gregg Cuthbert has applied to the city for a microenterprise grant to defray the $18,000 to $20,000 cost.

“You don’t see many (shops) up here like that,” he said.

Gregg Cuthbert Jr. has visions for the store, too. He would like to see it expand to multiple locations and become a household name.

The store is not making a profit, yet, Gregg Cuthbert said, but people seem to be happy with his low prices. Keeping prices lower than competitors is his way of trying to help out the community, Gregg Cuthbert said. So far, business has increased a little in his first couple of months.

Soon, community members in Cortland will get to see Alexander Cuthbert become immortalized in his dream, with a cartoon likeness of his face becoming the new logo for the store, according to Gregg Cuthbert Jr.