By James Rose
Special to The Pioneer
For AG Valley Foods, the month of October has been filled with well-deserved peer recognition.
Last week, the Invermere grocery stores owners, Sydney-Anne Porter and her two sons Eric and Greg Lapointe, were in Toronto to receive the Canadian Independent Grocer of the Year 2016 Regional Award for British Columbia and Yukon in the small store category (up to 14,999 square feet). Valley Foods also placed in the top six nationwide for the same category.
Winning the award and being in the top six nationally was a huge honour for our entire team and we are grateful for our customers contribution to Valley Foods success, said Ms. Porter. It goes without saying that our loyal customers are part of this honour as well.
The Canadian Independent Grocer of the Year Awards is a recognition program organized by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. Each store is evaluated by the programs Regional Juror on customer service, staff and department management, store layout, merchandising, creativity, cleanliness and community involvement.
The keys to Valley Foods success? Daring to be different, and always thinking ahead the modus operandi with which Ms. Porter approaches her business. To her, doing so is wholly necessary to be able to thrive in the constantly changing and hyper-competitive grocery retail landscape.
But it is one thing to think about being different as opposed to actually being different (especially in a way that resonates with enough customers). If nothing else, being in the top six nationally, and winning the BC/Yukon Regional Award is certainly a testament to doing what Ms. Porter and her team have always strived for.
Daring to be different for us meant being at the forefront of integrating organic and natural products into the store because when we first started doing that, no one was doing it, said Ms. Porter. There are other little things too. Coming up with a unique labelling system, giving our food vendors the chance to advertise on our check-out till belts, and introducing our Lite and Easy healthy eating program these are all things that were done to get ahead of the curve.
Upon hearing the good news, Valley Foods employees were equal parts grateful and motivated.
For our employees, getting this kind of recognition really goes a long way. I am so proud of how hard they work, added Ms. Porter. We are very, very proud of our incredible team and I recall one of our employees saying, Teamwork makes the dream work! And it so true!
Impressively, Valley Foods was also the recent recipient of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerces Business Excellence Award for Retailer of the Year, and a Bronze Medal winner (grocery store category) in Kootenay Business 2016 Best of Business Awards.
Yet, while all of the recent recognition is certainly nice, Ms. Porter is not one to rest on her laurels.
There are always ways to improve and for next year, our goal is to be in the top three nationally.