© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Prince Albert Co-op employees James Fraser, Ryan Finch and Madison Knowles flip burgers during a Prince Albert SPCA fundraiser at the 15th Avenue East gas station and convenience store on Wednesday. This was the latest of three burger fundraisers, which have raised between about $800 and $900 for the animal shelter.
Optimism permeates everything Prince Albert Co-op general manager Dave Marchant has to say about the ever-expanding organization he heads.
The Daily Herald caught up with Marchant at a Co-op-headed barbecue fundraiser at the 15th Street East gas station and convenience store on Wednesday.
âWeâre having an excellent year,â he said. âPrince Albert and district is a very competitive market in all aspects, but weâve got some significant growth this year and we find that exciting.â
The member-driven organization also broke ground on the two new convenience store/gas station centres -- one in Prince Albert and the other in Wakaw.
The Prince Albert centre at Second Avenue West and 16th Street takes up the strong majority of a city block and serves to replace an old gas station, convenience store and carwash centre that was torn down.
The convenience store component will be much larger than the old facility and will feature a store within a store -- the Co-op Pro Tackle Shop, which will catch people heading north to cottage country.
âIt looks spectacular,â Marchant said of the near-complete building set to open next month -- a significant build thatâs lagging only one week behind schedule, due to rain delays.
The Wakaw centre will also open near schedule in September and will host the companyâs first attached Dairy Queen outlet.
The Co-op Marketplace grand opening at the Cornerstone shopping District was also a week behind schedule when it opened in 2011, Marchant noted.
âWe work with well-known contractors and suppliers,â he explained. âWe have a contract and they give us dates, and it generally works pretty close.â
Prince Albert and district is a very competitive market in all aspects, but weâve got some significant growth this year and we find that exciting. Dave Marchant
The Prince Albert Co-op hires local contractors wherever possible, and within the province whenever local isnât available.
Across the street from the Co-op Marketplace on 15th Street East is Sobeys -- a grocery store slated for closure this month.
âIn all honesty, in some ways weâre sad, because of course weâre losing a business in town,â Marchant said. The loss of about 70 jobs at the 13-year-old grocery store is hard news for the affected families, he said.
âWe anticipate weâll get some additional sales because of that -- mainly because of the location,â he said, noting that the transition should be easy since both centres are considered âtraditional grocers.â
When it comes to the 70 people looking for employment and the increased stream of shoppers, Marchant said that the Prince Albert Co-op will do its best to bring in as many people as they can.
âWeâre doing our best to accommodate them and handle that extra volume without much strife or trouble.â
The Prince Albert Co-op has approximately 500 employees and more than 30,000 members in 13 communities in north central Saskatchewan.
Last year, the Prince Albert Co-op took ownership of three former Viterra sites at Canwood, Whitestar and Prince Albertâs Elevator Road -- sites that offer agronomy services such as chemical, fertilizer, seed and farm equipment.