Lee Stewart spent much of his summer touring Newfoundland in search of Riff's department stores. Here he stands outside the location in Lewisporte. (Submitted by Lee Stewart)
There have been many online challenges over the years that have seen people do some outlandish things. There was the Ice Bucket Challenge, created to raise awareness of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
There was planking — lying down in unusual locations — and the Mannequin Challenge — people in groups standing still — which offered participants some delightful photos for their social media feeds.
In their footsteps follows a Newfoundland and Labrador challenge created by Lee Stewart of Conception Bay South: the Riff's Department Store Challenge, which invites people to visit all 20 of the chain's locations in the province.
Stewart says it was a creative way to explore the province he loves.
"I started doing staycations across the province and I started seeing these Riff's stores around," said Stewart. "Well, it's something unique to Newfoundland, right?
"You don't find them anywhere else in the country and they don't exist on the Avalon Peninsula. And so that was the attraction for me."
I ended at Badger's Quay. Like, I never even knew Badger's Quay existed before I started this challenge.
- Lee Stewart
Earlier this year, Stewart posted a map of the store chains locations on the StaycationNL Facebook page. His intention was to visit all locations over the next three summers. However, that plan quickly changed.
"It got a lot of interest and then I saw people actually starting to do it. So that was kind of the motivation for me to to finish it. Well, kind of finish it," said Stewart.
And kind of finish it he did. Stewart managed to cross all 18 Riff's locations in Newfoundland off his list but will have to wait until next summer to visit the two in Labrador.
Riff's department stores are fixtures in small communities across the province. They're known for selling affordable fashions and boast a weekly 33 1/3 per cent discount. But not all Riff's are created equal, says Stewart."
"The one in Marystown and the one on Fogo Island, they actually sell furniture and refrigerators," said Stewart. "Probably the coolest one I've seen is in St. Alban's. Basically it's a store, but then there's a dome right next to it. It's kind of like those domes you see on farms where they store things."
Stewart says the Riff's store in St. Alban's is the coolest location he's visited so far. (Submitted by Lee Stewart)
Like many staycationers, Stewart says he would sometimes buy souvenirs from the locations he visited.
"I just bought little knickknacks, like for instance rocks with sayings on them," said Stewart. "I bought a bag of Hawkins Cheezies at the one in Grand Falls-Windsor. They actually sell Hawkins Cheezies, but you cannot find them in any of the other locations."
While Stewart hasn't heard from the owners or management of Riff's about his challenge, he says he has had some great conversations with store employees who have gotten a kick out of the whole thing.
Stewart and his girlfriend, Helen Mackey, drove across the Island visiting Riff's stores. It was all part of the Riff's Challenge Stewart had created. (Submitted by Lee Stewart)
He has documented his Riff's journey on his social media pages, posting pictures of himself outside each location wearing a Riff's T-shirt and hat. The swag was created by his girlfriend Helen Mackie, who has also been along for the ride. Stewart also created a game within the challenge, asking followers to figure out the location just from the storefront.
Stewart admits the pressure was on to complete his own challenge — and he managed to visit 11 locations within a single week.
"I went all the way from Port aux Basques to Saint Alban's, Cape Harbour Breton, all the way up north to Fogo Island and Twillingate," said Stewart. "I ended at Badger's Quay. Like, I never even knew Badger's Quay existed before I started this challenge."