A ‘hung over’ guy saves a small business

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

You wouldn’t think that a little fish-and-chip shop in a small Canadian town could become a viral sensation. And the last person you’d think would be the cause of this is a self-described “hung over” guy looking for some fish and chips. But it was. And he did.

The story, as reported last week by Canada’s Globe News, goes like this. One night, oil worker Colin Ross was a little tipsy. And very hungry. He had a hankering for fish and chips. So he stumbled onto a little shop in his home town of West Lethridge called Whitbie’s Fish & Chips. Ross loved the food. And he loved the story of the owner. So much so that he went home and posted the following message on his Facebook page:

“So I lived on the west side for few years now coming up the hill from the driveing range I see fish in chips on the wall and said I never been there so I am a little hung over thinking fish and chips will fix me up I open the door and there is a 70 year old man all by himself in this nice clean establishment so I ask him how’s business and he said he can’t even pay himself at the end of the day so that really bothered me. Anyone who know me I have a big heart and want people to do well especially a 70 year old man who has put in his time. So I ordered the halibut special for 23$ absolutely amazing that traditional British fish and chips just what I needed. And the owner was a jem real classy stand up guy so I ask everyone in lethbridge to share this and go support this hard working gentleman he deserves it and makes joeys only look like child’s play. Thank you lethbridge show this man some support! That’s my good deed of the day have a great day! And he’s in the parking lot behind the Tim Hortons on university drive going towards the coulies where the black tomatoe use to be.”

Ross wasn’t telling the whole story. The owner of the shop, John McMillan, had emigrated from Scotland to the small Canadian town seven years before and hoped to run a successful small business. But unfortunately due to the shop’s location business had been slow and McMillan wasn’t even able to pay himself a salary. He needed help. And he got it in a very unexpected way.

Ross has about 2,500 friends on Facebook.  is post about the fish and shop quickly went viral and has been shared almost 9,000 times by people “from Alaska to California,” he says. Lines formed outside the shop, giving it ts biggest day in seven years. Business has never been better.

Once again we’re all reminded that we should never, ever underestimate the power of a great story…and the power of social media to deliver it.


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