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Two closed Safeways reopened by parent company as FreshCo stores

By Lorraine Graves

Published 3:30 PDT, Thu May 16, 2019

Bright and early, with a bold lion dance, the FreshCo store at Blundell Centre, located at Blundell and No. 2 Road, opened at 7 a.m. May 16, with a line-up of customers that stretched around the corner.

It might have been the novelty of a new kind of grocery store where the Safeway stood for many decades or the lure of the offer of 12 free rolls of toilet paper, but line up they did. In true Canadian fashion, the queue was orderly and patient as the customers anticipated their first shopping experience in a store where fluorescent green predominates in the signage and the staff t-shirts.

The scene was the same at Scott Marshall’s FreshCo at Broadmoor Shopping Centre, located at No. 3 Road and Williams Road, with people patiently waiting or enjoying a spin of the roulette wheel for a chance to win a gift certificate.

Blundell FreshCo franchisee, Anthony Vongsana, talked of the new era in shopping awaiting the people of Richmond.

With these among the first dozen stores planned for the region, Vongsana said, “FreshCo is expanding our name into Western Canada.”

Mike Venton, the general manager for discounts with parent company Sobeys, said, “We have a number of stores that we are working on. We are going to go to other communities in British Columbia. Right now, we are going to focus on the two stores we’ve just opened. We’re going to get involved in the community.”

That community involvement started with the store openings. Each FreshCo location donated $5,000 to the Richmond Food Bank.

Married to a Richmond woman, Blundell store franchisee and store manager Vongsana describes himself as a local.

“I’m excited to provide the neighbourhood with cheap prices, making every dollar count so they have money to spend on other things,” Vongsana said.

Venton said, “We are hoping the community accepts us and gets to know we are here, realizes how well we are priced and how we guarantee what we do here.”

When asked what FreshCo has to offer, Venton listed the price guarantee, rain checks and a host of other things. He added, “A lot of things to give customers real confidence that this is a good place to come and shop with us.”

If the first day line-ups at both locations were any indication, things are looking rosy for FreshCo in Richmond. It was a festive day.

Venton said, “It’s fantastic. When you’re in the retail business, opening stores is what you want to do. It’s the best part of what we do.”

Richmond’s two new FreshCo stores are open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. seven days a week.

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