Pepper’s Foods management and staff celebrate their bronze Independent Grocer of the Year small surface award, placing it in the top three independent grocery stores in Canada in its category. (Austin Westphal/News Staff)

Pepper’s Foods management and staff celebrate their bronze Independent Grocer of the Year small surface award, placing it in the top three independent grocery stores in Canada in its category. (Austin Westphal/News Staff)

Independently owned Saanich grocery store makes top 3 in all of Canada

Pepper’s Foods named third best independently owned grocery retailer in small surface category, again

Whether it’s stocking aisles with locally sourced Vancouver Island products or simply keeping the public Wi-Fi signal strong, it all comes down to the fine details for one Saanich grocery retailer.

But it’s the people behind the operation that’s kept independently owned Pepper’s Foods, tucked away in quiet Cadboro Bay village, in business for 60 years.

Last month the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) hosted its annual awards in Toronto, Ont. with Pepper’s Foods taking home the bronze Independent Grocer of the Year small surface award – the category for all Canadian grocery stores under 15,000 square feet.

Pepper’s Foods also picked up the regional small surface award as the top-scoring store in British Columbia and Yukon for the second year in a row, which once again placed the 4,000 square-foot grocery store in contention for the national award.

“The biggest thing for us is we’re going up against stores that are 15,000 square feet, three times the size of us,” Cory Davits, Pepper’s Foods general manager, told Black Press Media. “And we’re doing OK.”

CFIG, a non-profit trade association, evaluates each member store across the country on customer service, staff and department management, store layout, cleanliness, creativity, merchandising and community involvement.

From the store’s variety to the cleanliness of its washrooms, and even the “appearance of the store when you first pull up,” Davits says every single aspect of the grocery store is important.

But for Davits, nothing is more important than the dedicated and hospitable staff at Pepper’s Foods, who he credits with keeping the store running like a “finely tuned machine.”

“I really have to give it to the staff, we couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “They have the magic touch.”

Across town, Country Grocer’s store in Royal Oak won the bronze national award in the medium surface category – 15,000 to 25,000 square feet – as well as the top prize for the medium surface category in the B.C. and Yukon region.

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Do you have a story tip? Email: austin.westphal@saanichnews.com.

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