By Stan Ashbee
South Country Co-op in Taber is currently under a complete interior and exterior renovation.
“It’s been quite some time since the facility has been updated,” said Paul Haynes, South Country Co-op CEO.
Grocery stores, Haynes noted, only have so long of a cycle and then it’s back in to renovate. “And put new equipment in, so it’s time.”
Haynes said ever since South Country Co-op purchased the store in Taber, which was a Safeway store, “we’ve really done minimal amounts of upgrading in terms of equipment or additional fixtures go.”
According to Haynes, plans are in the works to replace all of the equipment, “so all new state-of-the-art looking equipment, which is going to back-up our footprint of providing support to sustainability. It’s going to be all high-level energy-efficient. We’re going to replace the lighting, so its going to have the latest in terms of LED lighting.”
Haynes said South Country Co-op is really doing its part, as a co-operative, to support the carbon footprint by reducing all those emissions. “That’s the biggest part of the change — is just all new higher energy-efficient equipment.” The second part of the renovation is the change of flow of traffic inside the store.
“We’re getting together all of our fresh departments, so we’re going to bring bakery, deli, meat — all those departments are going to be together. As you walk in the door, you’ll walk right into fresh,” said Haynes. “That’s kind of typically what you see in most retail food stores now.”
Further to that, Haynes said, there will be newer technologies added with the renovations. These upgrades will allow for customers to order online and ahead of time to come and pick-up groceries.
When the store was built by Canada Safeway, it was their largest footprint. “When we take a look at the volume of sales coming out of this store, the store was basically over-built,” said Haynes.
“The store is quite a bit bigger than it really needs to be for the volume, so part of the strategy also is to somewhat downsize the footprint — so it’s easier for customers to shop,” Haynes added. “We’re going to provide a better shopping environment with respect to that.”
With the renovations, there will also be two lease spots included — which will feature an Anytime Fitness location and a doctor/physiotherapist/chiropractor office. The pharmacy will also be moving to the front of the store, “which will be more convenient and right off the doctor’s office,” according to Haynes.
“Overall, I think the services will improve and just a fresh new look, all new systems, decor — we’re going to paint the entire store, all new flooring — we’re just going to give it a fresh, new, modern look,” Haynes said. Every eight to 12 years in food stores, “you just have to do that.”
Haynes said the Taber business just received approval earlier this month and renovation work began last week and, it is hoped, the renovations will be completed by the end of August. “The way we worked it out with our contractor is we are going to keep fully-operational. We’re not going to have to shut down any of the areas. We may have to move some stuff, but we’re going to do our very best to keep the existing offerings available to all of our members on a day-to-day basis.”
There are 51 South Country Co-op locations in 19 communities. The Taber location is currently the third largest Co-op in Western Canada. “We do a very good job to represent local growers,” said Haynes.
“We are probably the best supporter of local products grown locally in Western Canada,” Haynes added. “We will support any local vendor if they have something to sell, we want to sell it for them.”
In addition to keeping it local, South Country Co-op also supports local vendors in terms of work, so the Taber store is going to try and hire as many local vendors from Taber and area.
“To keep as much work on this renovation local,” he said.