It’s going against the grain of ever-larger destination grocers under the banner of some of the biggest corporations in the world.
On Monday, Dallas welcomed Market Fresh Foods, an independent grocer owned and operated by Kamloops residents.
“We foresee the area and community is right for the store,” said general manager Brad McDonald. “Ten per cent of Kamloops basically lives in the area.”
McDonald has a long history in the grocery business, including 27 years with Real Canadian Superstore parent Loblaws. He agreed the trend is for larger destination stores, evidenced by the planned expansion of Walmart Canada of its Kamloops store so it can carry more food products.
“It’s relatively uncommon,” McDonald said of the independent full-service grocer, with both meat cutters and bakers on staff in the 12,000-square-foot store.
The theme of the new grocer for Dallas, the only store of its kind east of Valleyview, is the accent on fresh, with a market-style theme. But there is also recognition it must compete on price. The store purchases product from Loblaws but can also source produce, for example, from local farms.
The grocery store is a key part of the Dallas Town Centre development overseen by developer Scott Bianco, whose family owned the land for four decades.
The first phase of the residential development includes 44 condominium units. Bianco said it is 50 per cent sold, a relatively strong showing in an uncertain market. He expects sales to increase with completion of a show home early this year.
“Phase one will be occupied in March.”
Bianco said he searched for several years for the right anchor tenant for the development before Market Fresh became a reality.
“It anchors your shopping centre. Without a grocery store your shopping centre doesn’t have the same feel.”
Another tenant, Dollar Barn, opened Tuesday and Subway Restaurants is slated to open a drive-through location in late spring, Bianco said.
McDonald said the large size of the store is disguised from the outside, making customers surprised at what’s offered once they get inside. Décor was done by local designers.
It will eventually have 35 to 40 part- and full-time staff once it is up to full operation.
The grocer will have a grand opening in early spring, once all the wrinkles that are inevitable in any new operation are worked out. Staff members are greeting the first customers.
“We’ve had a lot of foot traffic. People come in and they’re saying, ‘We’ve waited so long.’ ”