Today, the city's Extra Foods officially becomes Tom's No Frills grocery store.
After weeks of renovations and changes, owner Tom Zelke is unveiling this new (to Castlegar) concept in food stores.
“It's still a Loblaw's company,” he said, explaining the 'No Frills' ownership structure is different, as is some of the consumer experience.
“The pricing is fantastic on a consistent basis (under the new structure),” he said. “The purchasing is different, which allows us to keep the prices very, very low.”
He said the store will carry favourite President's Choice products, but will no longer offer fresh-baked bread or hot barbecued chickens.
“Customers will bag their own groceries – and bag the savings, while they're at it,” Zelke said. “We still carry bulk foods, but it's prepackaged now, which is a healthier alternative.”
He said the store will also carry a smaller range of sizes – for example, you can still buy Heintz ketchup, but it will only be offered in a couple of bottle sizes instead of five or six, which is part of the way they keep the overhead, and thus the prices, low.
“Economically, (this new model) is a good fit for the area,” Zelke said, explaining the region has several high-end grocery stores, but few value-based ones. “The way the economy was going, and how some people were really struggling – this seemed like the best way to go for Castlegar.”
The Castlegar Community Harvest Food Bank got a windfall as a result, when Zelke was trying to figure out what ot do with a whole truckload of discontinued product the No Frills store would no longer be carrying.
“We discussed shipping it to another store, but coming into the winter months and with the Christmas season coming up, I suggested we ring it through as a donation tot the local food bank, instead.”
The food was rung in at 50-per-cent off, and the total still came to just under $4,800 ...meaning the food bank got a whopping $9,400 worth of food.
“It's just wonderful, we really appreciate it,” said food bank manager Deb McIntosh.
Zelke said he thinks customers will be as happy with the new format as the food bank was with the donation, and he hopes the store will draw consumers from nearby communities like Trail and Nelson, as well.
“I think people will be really happy with the prices here,” he said.
Zelke also said staffing is the one thing that hasn't changed – you can still expect to be served by your favourite Extra Foods cashiers when you shop at Tommy's No Frills.