The Delmas Co-op has borrowed $1.5-million and hired a contractor to build a new food store in Masset.
Co-op president Glenn Fahlman made the announcement at a public meeting Thursday (Oct. 5) attended by the board of directors, staff, and many members of the public.
“It’s a very exciting day for your board of directors as we announce our decision to proceed,” Mr. Fahlman said. “We are building the best possible facility we canÂ… It will rival any store they have on the mainland.”
The new store will cost $3.9-million to construct and should be open by August of next year. After years of planning, the co-op board has $2.4-million cash to invest in the project, and is borrowing the remaining $1.5-million from Northern Savings Credit Union.
Mr. Fahlman said the board has awarded the contract to build the new store to Grand Construction of Langley, the same company which is building the new hospital between Masset and Old Massett, and the Qay heritage centre in Skidegate.
General manager Richard Clarmont then showed a power-point presentation on the new store to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s 70s hit “Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow”.
According to the presentation, the new store will be 16,500 square feet, significantly larger than the current store’s 11,600 square feet. It will have wider aisles, more display and storage areas, a much larger bakery, a barbecue chicken machine and a full-service deli. The new store will be heated with an air-to-air heat pump rather than a furnace, which will be much more efficient.
During the question period which followed the presentation, one man said co-ops have been disappearing on the coast, and wondered if it made sense for the Masset store to expand. With a new grocery store having just opened in town, he said, the co-op can hardly expect its customers to increase.
However, Mr. Clarmont said co-op sales are not dropping, and that the new store is being built with the assumption that sales will remain at last year’s level. He pointed out that the existing food store is 40 years old, cramped, and has a rotting wooden floor.
“If you keep this store, forget it,” agreed one Masset resident. “You’re going to lose customers.”
Al Frick, a former co-op director, congratulated the board on moving ahead with the new store and said the cost looked reasonable.
“Congratulations guys, we’ve got to move forward,” he said. “I think it’s great what’s happening.”
The whole room broke into applause following his comments.
The new store will be built on the vacant lot next door to the existing co-op. Once it’s built, the old store will be torn down and that area will become a parking lot. The co-op’s home and hardware store will remain standing.
Mr. Clarmont said the new store will have some “totally unique” touches. The entrance, which will face the parking lot rather than Main Street, will evoke a longhouse, with big cedar columns. Inside, the store’s walls will feature eight-foot high murals of historical and present-day scenes from the islands. The co-op may also commission local artists to carve some of the interior posts, he said.
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