At 4 p.m. on Nov. 5, all customers lining up to pay in one of Vanderhoof’s grocery stores got their shopping for free under a rain of confetti.
For George, one of the ten customers who had benefited from the sudden give-away at Your Independent Grocer (YIG), it was a cartful of free groceries that afternoon.
“It was a surprise,” said George, who did not give his last name. “Never in all of my 55 years.”
Other than a welcome station of refreshments and face-painting by the store’s entrance, as well as a book signing by a B.C. author, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary at the grocery store last Thursday afternoon.
At 4 p.m., store owner-operator Jim Mackie announced the giveaway as staff fired confetti guns and waved event banners.
Only three store staff, in addition to the owner, was in the loop for the surprise, Mackie said.
He explained that Vanderhoof’s YIG, part of Loblaws Inc., was one of the company’s market division stores that were drawn by random across Canada to take part in the groceries giveaway.
The idea is that YIGs differ from the company’s larger grocery store lines by its importance in the community, Mackie added.
“We want to give back what we take,” he said. “We were very lucky to be drawn for this; not that many stores got drawn for what happened.”
With about ten customers at the cashier at that critical moment, with a limit of $250 per person, Mackie estimated that $2,000 worth of groceries was given away.
“I wish the store was a lot busier,” he said, adding that as each selected store in Canada carried out the event at different times, he had input on the hour but not the day of the event in Vanderhoof.
“I would like to see it on the family appreciation day when the line up is big, but unfortunately we don’t get to pick that.”