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Discount service is over: franchise owner
Your Independent Grocer on Old Airport Road gets makeover as Loblaws upgrades former Extra Foods location

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More staff, less clutter, larger selection and smaller lines are some of the goals behind the months-long rebranding makeover at the new Your Independent Grocer on Old Airport Road.

NNSL photo/graphic

Franchise owner Trevor Bayer stands in one of the few sections of the new Your Independent Grocer store not turned inside out during renovations last Friday. The Old Airport Road Loblaws store, formerly an Extra Foods location, closed on Sunday and is scheduled to re-open on Friday at 8 a.m. - Daron Letts/NNSL photo

Formerly Extra Foods, the Loblaw Companies Ltd. franchise is revamping its vibe from a discount model to a full-service retail store, according to franchisee Trevor Bayer.

About a fifth of the store's shelves and displays were in flux on Friday as infrastructure was being replaced or rearranged in preparation for the final week of renovations, which began in June. The store closed on Sunday and is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. on Friday.

"Renovations are renovations -- they're not pretty -- but we're hoping for a good end result," Bayer said on Friday. "If you look at the downtown (Your Independent Grocer) store, that has done an amazing 360-transition, it's looking great and we're looking for the same."

The downtown Extra Foods location made the transition to a Your Independent Grocer on Aug. 16 after undergoing two months of renovations.

"It's been a long time coming," said downtown franchise owner Glen Meeks, who has worked for Loblaws in Yellowknife for more than 20 years.

The 18,000-square-foot downtown franchise expanded its meat department from 1.2 metres of retail space to 9.1 metres and now offers hot meals and salads to go. Its employee base increased by more than 50 workers, from about 35 staff to 88 staff, about a dozen of whom are full-time.

"The new staff who have come on are really excellent," Meeks said. "We're really happy with them."

The new Old Airport Road store, which contains 1,672 square metres of retail space, will feature more fresh produce, a sushi bar, hot meals that are ready to go, a full-service bakery that will include cake decoration, a full-service deli counter and a seafood department with a lobster tank.

The Joe Fresh line of apparel, formerly offered in only children's and toddlers sizes at the Old Airport Road Extra Foods, will be stocked in men's and women's sizes, as well, as part of the store's new 422 square-metre clothing department.

The number of checkout counters has been increased to about 18 or 19, Bayer said, in response to customer concerns about lengthy lineups.

In the months leading up to Friday's grand re-opening, the Old Airport Road store increased its staff by at least 50 employees to more than 200, Bayer said. About 40 of the workers are full-time.

Regular staff will be dressed in new red and black golf shirts and management will be identified by red dress shirts, beginning Friday.

Originally from Leaf Rapids in Northern Manitoba, Bayer started working for Loblaws as a department manager in 2007 in The Pas, Man. He moved to Yellowknife with his fiancee, Sylvia Grant, in July.

Loblaws opened its first Yellowknife outlet, OK Economy, in 1992 in the location now occupied by Centre Ice Plaza.

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