A 20-year dream came true this time last year when Pina and Kevin Godard assumed ownership of what is now Your Independent grocery store in Meaford.
Pina and Kevin came to Meaford from Rockwood last June. They were determined to keep the same small-town community approach to their business that they had come to appreciate in Rockwood.
Of the varied styles of grocery stories under the Loblaw banner, a community-based store is the most appropriate format for Meaford and for the Godards, according to Pina. Franchisees like the Godards, do not have a say in what type of store goes where under the Loblaws banner, whether a No Frills, a Zehrs, discount or full-serve.
“Our store is a full-service store,” Pina explained, “meaning we offer not only produce but also butcher-cut meats, a bakery, deli, and prepared foods. We are proud to be a full-service store. We can serve not only individual customers, but also community groups and events like the Rotary Club BBQs, graduations, and MIFF. If we were a discount store, we would not be able to be the partner to the community that we have been.”
Franchisees do have some latitude within the store to counter the rising cost of groceries, according to Pina.
“We are always looking for the lower price point for our customers. We can promote our No Name discount program and our loyalty card program,” she said. “We can challenge our department managers to find ways to offer manager specials outside of the Loblaw umbrella.”
Kevin and Pina started their careers in the grocery business at a very young age. Both have had a combination of in-store experience, marketing experience, and experience with both vendors and retailers in the food industry. Now that their three children are older – Xavier is 20, Zachary is 17, and Kaitlyn is 15, Pina and Kevin are finally realizing the dream they first talked about many years ago.
“We first talked about owning our own store more than 20 years ago,” Kevin said. “Up until last year, Pina and I had very comfortable jobs with Loblaws head office. We knew that owning a grocery store would be a lot more risk but the upside was we could involve the whole family and bring the kids into the business. The biggest challenge that first month was handling all the change coming at us at once – the move, the transition, the changes in our lives. We learned to focus on our customers, the staff, and the community – the things that were natural to us and easy to get our heads around.”
Godard’s Your Independent first anniversary celebrations are scheduled for Saturday, June 24, with in-store specials in all departments, a Rotary Club barbecue, and free cupcakes.