Staying alive: Small business survival 101 with Cortes Market

By Greg Osoba, CKTZ News, through an LJI grant from

The Cortes Market has been in business for more than 30 years, all under one owner, Bertha Jeffery. She says the key to small business survival is catering to the needs of customers.

Sandwich board at the foot of the parking lot entrance to the Cortes Market general store in Mansons Landing, Cortes Island. Photo by Greg Osoba.

Cortes Island only has a year-round population of 1,000 residents. It’s served by three general stores, which also manage to survive, due in part to a three-fold increase in the island’s population during summer months, as family, friends and tourists visit.

Jeffery enjoys coming to work every day and after nearly 31 years at the helm, she has no plans to retire. She loves her job: Her business features everything from groceries to hardware, alcohol and lottery tickets to gardening and kitchen supplies.

She’s the longest serving store owner on Cortes Island and says that her customers keep her inspired. She adds that doing something special for someone every day is her motto.