Quality Foods in Courtenay has been named top grocer in the country by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.
Regionally, the store at Driftwood Mall came out on top in the large store category for B.C. and the Yukon for the second year in a row, then went on to capture national gold as the best of the best in Canada.
The honour, part of the Independent Grocer of the Year Awards program, was accepted by QF founding partners John Briuolo and Ken Schley on behalf of store manager Dan Gigliotti and his staff at the annual awards dinner Tuesday in Toronto.
The award was presented to the store in large part because of its strong and consistent participation in community activities such as the You Are Not Alone tree auction, the shopping experience from a customer’s point of view and other criteria.
The store assists the local food bank, sponsors sports teams, and participates in Canada Day and Christmas parades. QF Courtenay is a major sponsor of the latter.
“Being a newer store, this is only the second year we were eligible to compete against other independent grocers,” an elated Gigliotti said. “The quality of stores competing each year here and across Canada is very high. The independents in this category are the best of the best, so we are thrilled with this recognition.
“We’ve only been open two and a half years, so it’s quite the feather in our cap,” Gigliotti added. “It’s not only good for us but good for the City of Courtenay. It puts them on the map.”
Gigliotti credits his staff for going “above and beyond” every day at the store.
“I’m excited for them more so,” he said. “This award is because of our people who work in the store. Really it belongs to all of them.
“It’s hard to express how very proud I am of their character, hard work and commitment to providing the best shopping experience possible.”
The store opened in April 2010. Downstairs contains the Perk Avenue restaurant area while upstairs includes Step Above and Starbucks. Chinese food is a popular attraction on Fridays and Saturday nights.
The Driftwood QF also offers a home delivery and phone-in shopping service that seniors especially appreciate.
All 11 QF stores received an award of merit from judges who visited each applicant across the country. Along with the Courtenay store, there is a Quality Foods in Comox.
Nanaimo’s Northridge Village Road Quality Foods’ entry into the Master Merchandiser Awards was the judge’s favourite in the medium store category, winning gold. The store went on to win the platinum award as the best in all categories across Canada.
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BC Lions greats Lui Passaglia, Guilio Caravatta, Nick Hebeler, Glen Jackson and Nanaimo’s Andrew Harris are among the notable athletes lending their personas for local food banks.
Each Friday afternoon in October, Quality Foods shoppers have a chance to rub shoulders and have paraphernalia autographed by these football ambassadors.
The CFL players will appear at QF’s three Nanaimo locations.
Comox Valley QF stores will participate by offering a chance to win the $4,000 prize by automatic Q-Card entry when purchasing a Buy-a-Bag for donation to the Comox Valley Food Bank from 2 to 6 p.m. each Friday in October.
The Courtenay QF Buy-a-Bag program includes different varieties of theme bags such as the pasta bag, breakfast and lunch lovers.
“It’s a good incentive for people to buy that, and then they get something out of it, too,” store manager Dan Gigliotti said. “It helps the local food bank.”
Complete contest details will be posted at QualityFoods.com.