New Thrifty Foods store in Courtenay is energy-efficient

Doug Tinga is the produce manager of the new Thrifty Foods store in Courtenay. - Renee Andor
Doug Tinga is the produce manager of the new Thrifty Foods store in Courtenay.
— image credit: Renee Andor

Courtenay's second Thrifty Foods store is a little bit different and features new energy-efficient technology — while also offering all the services a grocery store can offer.

"Each store is different — there isn't a cookie-cutter Thrifty Foods — and each store that we open, the next one gets better and better with, obviously, efficiencies and looks and technology," says Jeff Ackinclose, manager of the new store.

The 40,000-square-foot Thrifty Foods Crown Isle store, at the corner of Lerwick and Ryan roads, features a West Coast-inspired design. The new store is a full-service grocery store offering a pharmacy, floral department, and vitamins and more section, besides a huge produce department and deli, a bakery, fresh meat and fish section.

One aspect of the store Ackinclose is especially proud of is the energy-efficient heating system, which starts by using CO2 to power the refrigeration system.

Heat generated from the power of cooling the refrigerators down is then diverted to heat the store's hot water tanks. After the hot water tanks reach their optimal temperature, the heat moves throughout the entire building.

"So, basically if we use too much hot water (laughs) the building itself will take a while to heat up again, but so far it's been great, so that's huge. That's brand new to me, I'm learning it, the system, but it's very high-tech and energy-efficient," says Ackinclose.

"There is no electric heating in this building."

Also, about 90 per cent of the store's freezers and coolers have doors on them to keep the cold air where it's supposed to be.

"They run more efficiently because there's doors actually holding in the temperatures," says Ackinclose. "So the days when you're going down the freezer aisle and you're freezing — it's actually the warmest spot in our store right now."

The store also features electric vehicle parking stalls with charging stations, according to Ackinclose. "They're installed; you just plug right in, so they're ready to go."

Thrifty Foods recently launched new fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in its stores, and the new Courtenay store features a 10-foot-long section of the ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables just inside the entrance on the right-hand side.

The fruits and vegetables are prepared daily on-site and have no syrups or additives to keep them fresh like many other prepared fruits and vegetables, which Ackinclose says changes the flavour of the produce.

"It's taken off," says Ackinclose, looking at how many of the packages have left the shelf after the lunch-hour on Friday. The packages are useful for "lunches, snacks, dessert, like I said, it's flying out of here."

He also notes the new Crown Isle location will soon supply the downtown Courtenay location with fresh-cut fruits and vegetables so the location at Sixth Street and England Avenue will feature a four-foot section of ready-to-eat produce as well.

The Crown Isle location also has a pharmacy — something the other Courtenay location does not have — and Ackinclose points out a variety of programs and services will be offered in the store. Flu shots were being given during the Record's store tour on Friday.

The store's vitamins and more section offers minerals, homeopathy, natural body care products and nutritional and sports supplements besides vitamins.

Nestled between the vitamins and more section and the enormous produce section sits the deli, which is huge as well. The deli offers freshly prepared paninis, subs and kaisers, homemade soup, sushi, pizzas and made-to-order party platters, among other things.

Towards the back of the store from the deli lies the bulk foods section, which Ackinclose points out features another new food item that customers really seem to enjoy. There's a make-your-own-trail-mix stand with a selection of trail mix essentials such as nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chips, so customers can make sure they get just the right amount of this and that in their mix.

The bakery offers hand-rolled breads and buns, baked treats, made-to order dessert platters and a selection of gluten-free items, among other things.

The meat and fish section has a live crab and lobster tank and other locally sourced fish and shellfish, as well as Sterling Silver Triple AAA 21-day aged Canadian beef, Fraser Valley chicken, western Canadian pork and lamb, and antibiotic-free chicken and beef.

There's also a cheese island with over 200 cheeses, including some local artisan choices.

The floral department offers knowledgeable floral designers and a large collection of bouquets for all occasions featuring local and international fresh-cut flowers.

Ackinclose notes about 130 employees have been hired at Thrifty Foods Crown Isle, and about 80 of those people are from the Comox Valley.

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