Nfld. & Labrador·Video

Century-old Co-op rebrands in St. Anthony

A century-old grocery store in St. Anthony has restocked after the loss of its main wholesaler, and is hoping to bring customers back.

Bouncing back

Here and Now

5 years ago
The Grenfell Co-op rebounds after a rough year. 2:18

A century-old grocery store in St. Anthony has restocked after the loss of its main wholesaler, and hopes the re-branding will bring customers back.

Grenfell Co-op went through a rough patch about a year ago, when Sobeys bought out Co-op Atlantic.

"It was rough at first, very rough," said store manager Boyd Manuel.

"The trucking changed and there was times we'd have shortages. The flyer changed. It was very challenging for the whole store."

Grenfell Coop has been in St. Anthony for a hundred years. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Leon Penney, vice chair of the nine-member board that manages the Grenfell Co-op, said sales dropped 30 per cent.

"In the transition, it was downhill from one to the other because [wholesaler] TRA wasn't quite prepared for the amount of sales," he said.

Several months later, Penney said stock is coming in on time and business is now rebuilding, but there's a lot at stake.

"If we don't increase our sales, get back to the way we were, it's difficult to survive."

Something extra for members

With both Grenfell Co-op and its local competitor, Foodland, carrying the same house brand — Compliments — Penney said customers won't find any difference in what's on the shelf.

But, "if you're a member, the store has something a little extra to offer," he said.

The store has been in business for 102 years, and is owned by its members.

"Full membership costs $500," said Penney. "If the co-op is doing well, making a profit, then this profit goes back to the membership."

Deana Clarke is a coop member who likes the selection, and the deals. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Co-op member Deanna Clarke said she shops for the best deals but likes the extras.

"They have a draw, 50-50, that brings you in. I won twice, over $900 each time," she said. "Everybody likes to win money."

Manuel said the store wants customers to "know we are pretty much back in the full swing of things....our prices are very competitive, and it's a nice atmosphere, we have a great staff." 

He added: "Where this is a member-based store, if anyone becomes rich here, it's the members....when they're shopping here they're supporting themselves as well as the store."

With files from Colleen Connors