The much-anticipated opening of the Real Canadian Superstore at the former Zellers location in the Penticton Power Centre takes place Thursday at 6 a.m.
The grand opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. which will include special guests Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas and Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton, who will join store manager Jeff Sharman in doing the honours of cutting the ribbon.
One of the people most excited about the opening is Sharman, who grew up in Penticton.
“It’s fantastic. I graduated from Pen High, so for me this is like coming home and I can’t wait to be servicing the people of this fine area,” said the store manager earlier this week. “We’re going to bring a really exciting, vibrant store with the full-service optical department, great health food department and walk-in medical centre right inside the store.
“We’re bringing fresh produce and great bakery items, deli and cheeses, and a selection of meats and seafoods.”
He added one of the most important aspects of the new business coming to town is the employment it provides for area residents.
“In terms of jobs, it will create over 265 jobs,” said the manager. “We started the process awhile ago and had another job fair about a month ago at the trade and convention centre which went very well and we hired about 150 people.
“I’m really happy with the people we got because it’s all about service and attitude and it starts with us, with me.”
Since the announcement of Superstore coming to Penticton in early October, extensive renovations have been made to the 111,000-square-foot building.
Officials of Loblaws Companies Ltd., which owns Superstore, announced earlier this year the Carmi Road Real Canadian Wholesale Club, which it also owns, will remain open. Superstore has about 40 other locations in the province including Vernon, Kelowna and West Kelowna.
In addition to the on-site medical centre, other health-related departments include the optical venue, offering contact lenses, prescription glasses and sunglasses. Eye examinations are also available. Natural foods and full-service pharmacy round out the wellness-departments.
Other products include, high-quality apparel for men, women and children and the Mobile Shop stocked with the leading wireless brands including over 50 phones, tablets and accessories.
Knowledgeable advisors are on duty to help customers select the products right for them and provide information where needed.
“Our team of dedicated colleagues are very eager to provide customers with a unique, hassle-free, value-added shopping experience,” said Sharman. “Kind of one-stop shopping if you will.”
He feels another positive aspect Superstore brings to Penticton is its commitment to the region’s agriculture industry.
Wherever possible, based largely on seasonal availability, the company will buy products locally.
“We’re finding that consumers are definitely a lot more aware and concerned about that aspect of shopping and also about getting products such as seafood from sustainable sources,” he said. “We’re really big on our country of origin. We’ll buy directly from farmers and orchardists, whether it’s cherries from Penticton or potatoes from Summerland or Cawston, we’ll do that.”
According to Mayor Ashton, in addition to the jobs, there are other major benefits to the community as a whole.
“It’s another way to keep people from going north, and in my opinion I think it’s also going to be a draw,” he said. “It’s going to draw people from the outside areas, north and south, and that gives them (shoppers) the opportunity when they’re in town they have the ability to go elsewhere.
“These big stores are very competitive but they also generate a lot of traffic, so that creates a lot of opportunity for other retailers and restaurants to show their wares.”
He added the decision to locate a Superstore here substantiates the recent selection of Penticton as the third most entrepreneurial city in the province behind Prince George and Kelowna.
“It’s also an expression of confidence in just how much we have to offer here,” said Ashton. “As a result of that, we’re getting more expressions of interest from other development from outside the area and that’s pretty nice to see.”
The new store will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.