Independent Grocer of the Year Awards Given in Canada

TORONTO -- This week at Grocery Innovations Canada 2005, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) gave out the Canadian Independent Grocer of the Year Awards to noteworthy independent grocers from across Canada.

This year's winners are as follows:

--Best Large-Surface Grocer: Ken Schley, Noel Hayward, John Briuolo; Qualicum Foods, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
This innovative three-story grocery complex was designed to meet the needs of local senior citizens. Features include an in-store elevator, a seniors' Activities Centre on the ground floor, an outdoor ice cream kiosk, a fresh sushi department, and a hot deli offfering Chinese food among other dishes. Additionally, shoppers can create their own special on any product, using the store's successful loyalty program, Q Points.

--Best Medium-Surface Grocer: Cori Bonina, president; Stong's Markets Ltd., Vancouver, B.C.
Stong's, which boasts a multigenerational history and near-legendary local status, was the first grocery store in British Columbia to offer valet service for its busy parking lot. The store's new Wellness Centre, which carries vitamins and health supplements, demonstrates Stong's commitment to improving its shopping experience by catering to the individual.

--Best Small-Surface Grocer: John Davits, Owner; Pepper's Foods, Victoria, B.C.
Located right next to the University of Victoria campus, Pepper's Foods counts both affluent seniors and college students among its loyal customers. Single-serve oven-ready meals, specialty meats, and seafood have proved especially attractive to those on a fixed income. Pepper's Foods is also known for constantly introducing new products and for a bulletin board that allows shoppers to track the progress of a requested item.

--Best Specialty Store Grocer: Peter Luckett, Pete's Frootique, Bedford, N.S.
Bringing a taste of England to the New World, Pete's Frootique's colorful decor features antiques and collectables, along with a honky-tonk piano to provide music. The 18,000-square-foot market is particularly well known in the Halifax, N.S. area for having the biggest selection of produce available.

Independent grocery stores from every part of the country vied for the awards, which are presented annually. Every store entry was visited and rigorously evaluated for excellence in its customer service, staff and department management, store layout, merchandising, creativity, cleanliness, and community relations.

The mission of the CFIG, a not-for-profit association founded in 1962, is to further the unique interests of Canada's independent and franchised grocers through progressive partnerships with retailers, suppliers, and consumers. The organization has a national membership of 3,800, which contributes CAN $14 billion (US $11.9 billion) in annual retail sales to the Canadian economy.
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