Campbell River Thrifty Foods manager Doug Riederer works hard to accommodate community requests for the store’s support.

Giving back is a Thrifty Foods philosophy

It’s hard to imagine a community event or organization that Campbell River’s Thrifty Foods store hasn’t helped out.

One of the company’s strongest philosophies is to give back to the community and the Campbell River Thrifty Foods certainly embodies that ethic.

“The store’s been involved in the community since it opened,” Riederer said. “It’s a big part of our culture, really, at Thrifty Foods since it started with Alex Campbell.

“We believe in giving back to the communities; supporting the communities that support us.”

The Campbell River Thrifty Foods supports everything from the Food Bank to big fundraising golf tournaments like the Rod Brind’Amour/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis golf tournament, dinner and auction which just happened recently and the upcoming Special Olympics Howie Meeker Golf Classic. The store also supports the Salmon Festival.

“It would be hard to think of something what we’re not involved in in some aspect,” Riederer said. “We get in the neighbourhood of 15-20 requests a month from various organizations.”

Riederer said they try to accommodate them all in some way or another.

“I like to say I never say no,” he said. “We can’t always do whatever people ask for but we  try to do something.”

Riederer said he particularly likes to support local schools “because I know they have tight budgets.”

“But there’s so many worthwhile organizations around that do good work,” he said. “It’s sometimes hard to support them all but we certainly try to do something for everybody.”

A unique program at Thrifty Foods is the Sendial program. Sendial Volunteer Shopping Program does the shopping for customers who, because of injury, frailty or other physical reason, can’t easily get to stores or shop independently.

It’s a service that is offered at all of the company’s outlets with more than 800 people served every week and Campbell River’s Sendial team is as active as any.

“We have a great team of volunteers,” Riederer said.

As a career, the grocery business is certainly one that can provide stability. People always need groceries and there are many people who have made the Campbell River Thrifty Foods their career.

“There’s people still working here that started when the store opened,” Riederer said. “There’s a number of local people who have made this their career. And, of course, we like to support young people in the community as well, giving them their first job.”

Many young people “cut their teeth” on their working career, getting a start at the store with their first job. The summer is a time when many high school students start and then get a few years of working under their belt before deciding what they want to do.

Those who do make it a career undoubtedly like it. Campbell River’s store has an “abnormally low amount of turnover,” Riederer said.

But the staff is made up of a whole range of employees.

“I like to say we have a really good balance between people who are on their second career or semi-retired, right down to the young kid that’s just got his first job,” Riederer said.

But for those who want to stay with the company, there’s opportunities to move up the career ladder.

“It’s a good job, a good company,” he said. “We pride ourselves on being a good employer.”

People often start with the company intending to move on after a while but end up making a career of it because of the working environment.

“I didn’t think it was going to be a career either and that was 34 years ago,” Riederer said.

Thrifty Foods was recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies in 2007. Riederer estimates that the Campbell River Thrifty Foods is one of the slightly bigger than average outlets in the company which was started in Victoria in 1977 by partners Alex Campbell and Ernie Skinner. The company has grown to 25 stores on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

And each of those stores lives up to the company’s philosophy of giving back to their community and Campbell River’s Thrifty Foods is no exception.

Deli workers (above) Callie Ann Massee and Kara-Lee Beck and seafood clerk Vicki Forbes (below) are all smiles working at Thrifty Foods.

Sendial volunteers take grocery orders from seniors and other shut-ins. From left: Janet-Ann Mahoney, Elaine Eisel and Maureen Berntson.