New Co-op food store coming to Skidegate

Co-op members vote 83 per cent in favour of borrowing towards new, larger store.

Goodbye crowded aisles, hello deli, bakery, and more fresh food.

Members of the Haida Gwaii Co-op have voted 83 per cent in favour of borrowing $6 million toward building a new food store in Skidegate.

It’s welcome news to anyone who has ever shopped on sale day at the existing Skidegate store, says Co-op board member Lisa Edwards.

“Our co-op there is just too small,” she said, speaking before a special vote in Masset last Tuesday that followed similar meetings in Skidegate and Sandspit a week before.

“And this is to expand the Co-op as a whole,” she added.

Opened in 1992, the existing store is roughly half the size of the new one planned for the 1.5-acre site north of the Skidegate rock quarry by Highway 16.

Once built, the new store will be slightly larger than the Co-op food store in Masset, and will feature large Haida-style cedar beams, two of them carved.

Besides a deli, bakery, and seating area, the store will have more cheese, meat and produce displays inside, plus backfilled dairy shelves, even hot curry and roast chicken for sale.

Outside, the store will have a raised freight door so container trucks can unload without a forklift, not to mention 81 parking spaces for customers and staff.

“I think we’re lucky if there’s 20 parking spots at the current store,” said Richard Clarmont, general manager.

Bob Isaacs, president of the Haida Gwaii Co-op, said the new Skidegate store will need 13 more staff, meaning its payroll will rise from $640,000 to about $916,000 a year.

The total cost to build the new store is about $7.5 million, but after reviewing the business plan, Federated Co-operatives Limited offered to pay $1.5 million when it opens.

Isaacs said a feasibility study done by an independent market research team found the $6 million loan will be repaid within 10 years.

“Financially, we’re in way better shape this time around,” said Clarmont, comparing the new Skidegate food store with the one built 15 years ago in Masset.

Back in 2006, Clarmont said neither the Skidegate food store nor the Masset home centre were making money. For three years, Co-op members had to go without their annual equity cheques.

Still, sales later improved enough at all three Co-op locations that the Masset loan was finally repaid last year, making the Co-op debt-free two years ahead of schedule.

Altogether, the Haida Gwaii Co-op had a record $13.9 million in sales last fiscal year, and this year, the Skidegate location is projected to do $5 million in sales — twice what it did 10 years ago.

“It’s doubled in sales in the same building,” said Clarmont. “So it has totally outgrown its size.”

Clarmont said construction could start as early as this fall, once the rock blasting at the quarry is finished and the contractors are hired (architects were hired last week). The Co-op expects to have just one year of operating losses — the year the new store opens — meaning Co-op members will likely have one year without equity cheques.

But by year two, the Co-op should be breaking even, before returning to growing revenue increases in following years.

The Co-op will own the new store but will lease the property from the Skidegate Band Council for 30 years with a 19-year option after that.

Skidegate council plans to develop extra tenant space on the site, and will develop the paving, curbs, and the left- and right-turn lanes leading to the new location. The quarry just south of the new site will cease operations, and some of the quarry face will need shoring up.

Speaking just after the final vote of 257 “for” and 57 “against” was counted, Co-op board member Bret Johnston said, “The bottom line here is folks in the south end deserve a store like we’ve got.”

“Well, up here we deserve a store like that down there,” replied Hank Taggart, a fellow board director.

“It will benefit all of us.”

Skidegate

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new ‘takeout’ curbside pickup service

As of June 5, cardholders can once again access physical copies of books, DVDs and more

Blacktail Haida Gwaii working to reopen with new covered patio

Chef-owner Edi Szasz hopes to reopen on June 25, the one-year anniversary of the restaurant

Skidegate daycare staff recognized for creative care during COVID-19

Staff have been using social media to share isolation activities, read stories and sing songs

Village of Queen Charlotte approves business facade improvement grants

Applications from Gather, dental clinic, A Level Up approved, leaving about $14,000 up for grabs

Recycling services in Queen Charlotte, Port Clements expanding next week

Residential plastics will be accepted again, but most residential transfer stations remain closed

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Most Read