Quality Foods at Driftwood Mall has been recognized on a regional and national level by the Independent Grocer of the Year Awards program.
The Courtenay business was named top grocer in B.C. and the Yukon, coming out on top in the large store category, and won National Bronze at the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocer’s annual awards dinner Tuesday in Toronto. QF founding partners John Briuolo and Ken Schley accepted the honour on behalf of store manager Dan Gigliotti and staff.
The store received the award largely because of its strong and consistent participation in community activities. These include the Christmas tree auction at the mall by You Are Not Alone, a beloved Comox Valley charity that assists families with sick children, and Christmas and Canada Day parades.
The store also assists the local food bank, and sponsors the Glacier Kings and other sports teams. The shopping experience from a customer’s point of view was another contributing factor.
“Being a newer store, this is the first year we were eligible to compete against other independent grocers, and there is some amazing competition regionally and across Canada,” Gigliotti said. “There are no words to say how incredibly proud I am of our people who work in the store every day. This award is because of their hard work, and really it belongs to all of them.”
The store opened in April 2010. Downstairs contains the Perk Avenue restaurant area while upstairs includes Step Above and Starbucks.
The Driftwood QF also offers a home delivery service that seniors especially appreciate.
"Obviously our staff are very proud of this award," assistant manager Mike Trask said. "It's been a lot of hard work getting to this level, but it's something we try to maintain on a daily basis. Our customers have very high standards, and we strive to be No. 1."
Management and staff enjoy mingling with customers, many of whom drop by each morning for coffee and a flip through the newspaper.
"It's part of their life," Trask said.
All 11 Quality Foods stores received an award of merit from judges who visited each applicant across the country. The Bowen Road QF was the judge’s favourite in the medium store category while the store in Nanoose Bay was recognized for 10 consecutive years of national recognition in the Awards of Merit program.